Addressing an election rally in West Bengal’s Srirampore in Hooghly district, Prime Minister Narendra Modi declared on Monday, “Didi, even your MLAs will desert you when the BJP wins the polls on May 23. Your 40 MLAs are in contact with us.”
The brazen threat by a Prime Minister to steal a mandate left people confused. But even as people wondered if this amounted to yet another violation of the Model Code, the statement also invited ridicule since the PM betrayed his weakness in arithmetic.
The West Bengal Legislative Assembly has 295 seats. If the BJP has to topple the West Bengal government and form the government, it will need the support of 148 MLAs. As of now, BJP has just two MLAs. So, it will need defection of 146 MLAs and not 40 MLAs.
Even if 40 MLAs defect, the anti-defection law will kick in. And in any case with 42 MLAs, BJP will still not be even the principal Opposition in the state Assembly. The Congress and Left Front fought the 2016 Assembly elections as an alliance and they have 74 seats between them.
AITC spokesman Derek O’Briend responded by tweeting:
The desperation in the ranks of the Bharatiya Janata Party is scaling new heights every day as reports from the ground indicate that the Narendra Modi-led BJP is headed for a drubbing in the on-going Lok Sabha polls. The party is widely projected to lose around 100 seats from the Hindi heartland alone with losses in Gujarat, Maharashtra and Karnataka too.
BJP president Amit Shah had said the BJP was confident of winning 23 seats in West Bengal. However, if wishes were horses, even pigs would fly.
The reality is that the BJP is not in a position to win more than two to three seats in West Bengal. Even these numbers may not materialise. The party was not able to find acceptable candidates in several seats and has not been able to field even polling agents in more than 40 per cent of the booths.