New Delhi: Ground assessment done in Bengal for over six months by Prashant Kishor’s political strategist firm, Indian-Political Action Committee (I-PAC), has found that the ruling Trinamool Congress (TMC) is facing major anti-incumbency. I-PAC, which has been engaged by the Mamata Banerjee-led TMC, has found that Banerjee’s MLAs are facing such massive anti-incumbency that the party may find it difficult to retain power if the current situation continues. The assessments were done between March and August 2020. Assembly elections in West Bengal are scheduled for around April-May next year.

I-PAC, according to information accessed by The Sunday Guardian, did three “ground assessments” across the 294 Assembly seats of the state. The first assessment was done just before the national lockdown was imposed in March; the second one was carried out in June, while the last one was done in the third week of August.

As per these reports, the TMC, which was doing “good” on 110 seats in the survey that was carried out in March, is now doing “good” on 78 seats. In the 2016 Assembly elections, the TMC had won 211 seats.

The assessment done by I-PAC has further stated that as per the survey done in August, 100 seats have now become “difficult” for TMC (unlikely to win), while the rest of the 116 seats are now “battleground” implying that the chance of TMC winning on these seats is 50/50.

The halfway mark in the West Bengal Assembly is 148.

The first survey done in March had found that the TMC was doing “good” on 110 seats and was in a losing position on 50 seats; 134 seats were classified as “battleground”.

The second survey done in June revealed that the number of seats which the TMC was likely to win had decreased to 92, while it was losing on 75 seats, with the rest of the 127 being classified as “battleground” seats.

Official sources in I-PAC, while responding to The Sunday Guardian’s queries, denied that any “survey” has been undertaken by them. The official sources stated that the overall feedback regarding the TMC and its MLAs was “very positive” among the voters of the state and an encouraging one. The sources further added that there were a couple of things (which the feedback had revealed) which the party was working on.

Election strategists at I-PAC, in order to win the 100 seats that have been classified as “difficult” in the August survey, have formed a “Super 100” team composed of its 100 employees. These 100 individuals have been tasked with the responsibility of focusing on these 100 seats and turn them into winnable seats before the elections are announced in the state.

Banerjee, who had come to power in the 2011 elections, is fighting, among other things, two terms of anti-incumbency, the alleged mishandling of the double crisis of Covid-19 and Cyclone Amphan and the negative image of the majority of her MLAs and district presidents who have been accused of indulging in rampant corruption.