Soon after Bharatiya Janata Party BJP president JP Nadda and BJP general secretary Kailash Vijaywargiya’s convoy was attacked, allegedly by Trinamool Congress supporters, in Diamond Harbour area in Bengal recently, Union Home Minister Amit Shah ordered an enquiry into the matter and called the state DGP on December 14 to Delhi to explain the law and order situation in the state.
Bengal Chief Minister and TMC supremo Mamata Banerjee, meanwhile, alleged this was the Bharatiya Janata Party’s own handiwork (nautanki). Speaking at a rally, she mocked the BJP, saying its leaders had no other work as sometimes it is Amit Shah who visits the state and sometimes some ‘Chadda Madda Fadda Bhadda Nadda’ is here.
The West Bengal Governor jumped into the exchange of fire, condemning the incident and asking Mamata to apologise and ‘not play with fire’.
The fierce contest has turned bloody with the BJP claiming as many as 125 of its workers have been killed by TMC workers/supporters. A week ago crude bombs were allegedly hurled at a BJP rally in Paschim Bardhaman district, injuring several party workers in the state.
The BJP has meanwhile formulated a ten-point strategy to dethrone Mamata in West Bengal.
1. While the BJP has announced it will implement CAA and NRC in Bengal, identify and throw out illegal migrants, Mamata has said she won’t implement the controversial laws.
Bengal shares its border with Bangladesh. The ‘porous’ border has led to many from Bangladesh entering Bengal illegally and settling down. This increases pressure on local resources and has led to a national security/law and order issue in these areas.https://embed.fireplace.yahoo.com/embed/ab6c2ec5-3ca6-4dbd-a799-77d82cf568f1?articleId=copy-paste-1608028453724&ctrl=PollListview&m_id=polls&x_ap_enrich=.html
2. Mamata’s ‘Amra’ vs ‘Ora’ (insider versus outsider) slogan can actually be used by the BJP in these areas.
A Hindu awakening in a society considered as liberal led to the BJP almost trumping TMC in the 2019 Lok Sabha elections. While the TMC bagged 22, BJP 18 seats out of 42 seats in the state. The party is working towards consolidating its caste-based support base amongst Matuas, OBCs and ‘bhadralok’.
3. West Bengal has the second highest Muslim population in the country. In terms of percentage of population, it ranks 4th after Lakhsadweep, Jammu & Kashmir and Assam. Muslims are in the majority in three districts of the state.
The BJP has targeted the minority appeasement politics of Mamata and succeeded to an extent in branding her and TMC as anti-Hindu.
4. The party has launched a campaign ‘Aur noi Anyay’ highlighting the corruption and bloodbath in TMC rule. Hundreds of party workers of the BJP and the Left parties have been killed in violence in the state. A breakdown of law and order and prevalence of lawlessness is being highlighted by the BJP.
5. Cut money — alleged commission taken by TMC workers and leaders — has become a bone of contention across the state. Middle and lower level TMC workers and leaders are accused of the charge of extortion, and running criminal syndicates.
Even Mamata has issued an ultimatum in the past that those indulging in such activities should leave the party. Sharada, Narada, cyclone Amphan relief scam have all dented the image of Mamata and TMC.
Against this, the party is pitching the clean image of Narendra Modi as prime minister and the track record of a corruption-free government at the Centre.
6. While the BJP is working towards consolidation of Hindu votes, it could benefit from a split of minority votes. Out of the 102 minority influence seats in the state, TMC had won 58 and INC-Left Mahajot 42 seats in 2016. The Congress historically enjoys a stronghold in Murshidabad, Malda and Uttar Dinajpur, the Muslim-majority areas in the state.
Additionally, Owaisi’s AIMIM is expected to contest around 70 seats in Bengal and run a high pitch campaign against CAA/NRC. It could make the contest AIMIM versus BJP in some seats and harm TMC like it did the Mahagathbandhan in Bihar.
7. The BJP is backing the rebels in TMC camp. Its talks with minister Suvendu Adhikari have not reached a conclusion, but there could be some understanding between the two.
Rajib Banerjee, the forest minister, has also voiced his grievances, echoing Adhikari’s dissatisfaction. Veteran Kolkata-based leader and the city’s outgoing deputy mayor, Atin Ghosh, has joined the rebellion. Many leaders in the party are apprehensive of Mamata Banerjee’s nephew, Abhishek Banerjee’s rise in the party.
8. The BJP accuses Mamata of stopping the benefit of over 80 central schemes reaching the poor in Bengal. Notable amongst them being the PM Kisan Nidhi scheme which provides Rs 6,000 assistance to marginal and small farmers.
9. BJP’s thrust will be on a double-engine ki sarkar. Same government in Bengal and Centre will lead to better development of the state. A confrontationist Mamata is working for her and her family’s good and not for the welfare of people of the state is the line the BJP is toeing.
10. The party will also attack Mamata on her dismal economic performance. The average GSDP growth rate between 2012-13 and 2017-18 has been 5.5%, lower than the average GDP growth of 7.1% registered by the Indian economy during the same period as per a Wire report.
To sum up, a charged BJP is putting all it has into the campaign in Bengal as it has tasted blood in the 2019 general elections. The run-up to the elections with both sides contesting fiercely could see more bloodbath and violence.
The article was first published here.