New Delhi: “It is PM Narendra Modi and not Pakistan that is a bigger threat to India,” said a prominent farmers’ leader Balbir Singh Rajewal in Kolkata. Statements such as this can certainly backfire on Trinamool Congress.
In the words of Saralu Murmu, a former Trinamool leader who joined BJP on March 8, “Mamata Banerjee’s politics and days of power were a political tragedy. There was the tragedy of ignorance and none could function at the local level”.There were other lapses that not only contributed to her downfall but have immensely helped BJP’s growth prospects.
Can we say, it’s all a case of writing on the wall now?
Former Union Minister Yashwant Sinha joining Trinamool Congress on Saturday (March 13) only shows that frustration and desperation are ruling the roost in the Mamata camp.
Mamata’s ‘Bohiragoto (outsiders)’ tag against central BJP leaders was such a misguided missile. Sinha is certainly an outsider to Bengal by Trinamool Congress own definition.
There is yet another illustration of desperation in Mamata camp vis-a-vis Nandigram and the rest of the state. Thus farmer leaders from north India are being brought in.
“It is PM Modi and not Pakistan that is a bigger threat to India,” said Balbir Singh Rajewal addressing a mahapanchayat in Kolkata. Long back, Justice V R Krishna Iyer had said that this is an era of guided missiles and misguided politicians. This seems to be prophetic for Mamata. She was ‘misguided’ to the level that she has ended up harming her political interests.
“For her voters even a year ago, Mamata was immensely popular. But her Bohiragoto (outsiders) tag for BJP central leaders was uncalled for. Here she was clearly misguided,” says Sushanto Maity, an analyst, in Durgapur.
If Prime Minister Modi is a terrific vote-catcher for his party, undoubtedly so has Mamata herself for Trinamool.
But, according to a businessman Moidul Hussain in Raniganj in south Bengal, a message has gone that she could be defeated. “This has made Muslim voters nervous and hence they are beginning to bank on ISF leader Abbas Siddiqui,” he says. “Now there are certain pockets where Trinamool was strong like in Muslim-dominated seats,
The Left-Congress-ISF alliance is making an impact. Here Trinamool is banking on cadres and musclemen but phased elections by Election Commission would make things only difficult for Trinamool,” he says.
The division among Muslim vote share due to Islamic fundamentalist Abbas Siddiqui factor would actually hit the last nail in the coffin for Trinamool Congress which could oust the communists in 2011. In fact, she overdid that ‘appeasement’ towards Muslims and this has partly boomeranged provoking the Hindu voters.
Mamata’s Muslim appeasement card is a major election issue and is being suitably used by the BJP leaders in fullest possibilities. No doubt, the BJP leaders during house to house campaign do not forget to say that the Mamata regime even had slapped restrictions even on August 5, 2020 when Prime Minister Narendra Modi had done Bhoomipujan at Ayodhya.
Suvendu Adhikari raises his voice every time he mentions how Mamata had stalled Durga Visarjan (immersion).
The crucial political message in Bengal BJP chief Dilip Ghosh’s voice is not lost. “Now…..people are ready for Mamata Visarjan (to dump Mamata) in polls”.
Political observers say these came even a year, she gave away as many as 18 Lok Sabha seats to the BJP in the 2019 general elections. In fact, the saffron party’s vote share had shot up to 41 per cent but Mamata was still ‘adamant’ about her anti-Hindu stance.
Thus, now when she ran from temple to temple at Nandigram, where she created a self-inflicted battle against Suvendu Adhikari, people are generally responding with ridicules.
The slogan “Unish-e-half; Ekushe Saaf” — “Trinamool strength reduced half in 2019 and would be uprooted in 2021” therefore appears pragmatic and achievable.
Undoubtedly, on Sunday, March 7 at the historic Brigade rally, Prime Minister Modi echoed the same sentiment – “TMC ka khel khatam (Trinamool game is over)”.
A youngster Nikhil Karmakar (23) summed up the entire situation well. “I might be confused on who should be the next Chief Minister of West Bengal. But my mind is clear, it should not be Mamata Banerjee or her nephew Abhishek”. Therefore, he attended the Kolkata rally.
His compatriot, Nabendu Pal, a resident from Barasat, made it more specific. “I am sure the next Chief Minister will be from the BJP as my state and its helpless citizens are awaiting for a genuine poriborton (change)”.
Thousands of youngsters, women and senior citizens who came up for the rally shared the same enthusiasm for the BJP.
In fact, the Prime Minister also spoke about the same — “ashol poriborton”.
Modi’s speech had key elements and political substance.
“West Bengal has reposed faith in Mamata Banerjee to bring in change but she betrayed the people and insulted them. This Brigade Ground has been witness to many great leaders and also witnessed those who have disrupted West Bengal’s progress,” he said directing his tirade against both Trinamool and the Left-Congress-ISF alliance.
But he pointed out the important political message of the day, “People of Bengal never left their hopes for change”.
It is this ‘genuine change’ they are waiting for and now things appear within a striking distance.
While the bulk of the anti-Mamata votes that went to the Left and the Congress (even in 2016) shifted en masse to the saffron party fold, there is no denying that much of the groundwork was done by the Rashtriya Swayamsevak Sangh (RSS).
In fact, the Sangh brought in their ‘pracharak’ from Andamans – Dilip Ghosh, who alongside Kailash Vijayvargiya, Arvind Menon and Amit Shah and J P Nadda, could organise the party cadres very well.
“None should forget the manner Dilip Ghosh and countless RSS workers toiled over the months. A shift among the non-Muslim classes like tribals, Scheduled Castes and other vulnerable groups have brought in the magic,” says Durgapur-based Sushanto Maity.
The CAA law is also aimed to bringing in Matua voters closer to the BJP. The Matuas are a socially deprived community, called ‘Namasudras’ numbering 25-30 million and they can influence the outcome in 20-25 assembly segments.
The hard work started paying off. Likes of Mukul Roy and lately Suvendu Adhikari and Rajib Banerjee jumping the ship actually showed that Mamata-Abhishek (Pishi-Bhaipo) duo was gradually getting marginalised.
The BJP’s allegations of ‘tola-baazi (extortion)’ and massive corruption of the ‘syndicate’ against Mamata’s powerful nephew stuck.
Thus, Abhishek Banerjee is about to dubbed in history as Mamata’s ‘Sanjay Gandhi’ – something ‘politically sensitive’ Bengalis would never approve of.
In the meantime, Siliguri-based Ramakanto Shanyal says, Mamata Banerjee had blundered in trusting advisors like Derek O’ Brien and nephew (Abhishek).
In the 2019 Lok Sabha polls, the BJP did well in north Bengal and some select pockets like Durgapur and Asansol.
Union Minister Babul Supriyo returned to Lok Sabha twice from Asansol – 2014 and 2019 while S S Ahluwalia shifted from Darjeeling, could win Bardhaman-Durgapur defeating Mamata’s close aide Mamtaz Sanghamita.
“Now, South Bengal seats and districts of 24 North and South Parganas and segments along Bangladesh border Malda and South Dinajpur would also back BJP,” says teacher Jhantu Dey in Asansol. He cites the illustration of desertion of leaders like Dinesh Trivedi as a clear case of Mamata sidelining her ‘well-wishers and lieutenants’ of many years.
Hence, a day after Modi’s rally, Trinamool Congress was hit with a major exodus. So much is growing disenchantment against Trinamool on the ground that despite being given a ticket from Habibpur, Sarala Murmu, joined the Lotus party.
“What can be worse than their (Trinamool) own members and dedicated leaders feeling humiliated and eventually leaving the party? Now Trinamool is getting celebrities to fill in the position,” said BJP state president Dilip Ghosh.
Another key leader, 80-year-old Rabindranath Bhattacharya, a prominent face of the Singur movement, also jumped the ship.
Mukul Roy, a onetime Mamata lieutenant, welcomed the veteran leader stating Bhattacharya’s move saying this finally makes it clear how the Mamata Banerjee government has failed those who voted overwhelmingly in 2011 and also 2016.
Now, nothing can be more ironical than the fact that both Nandigram and Singur ‘mass-level legislators’ are in the BJP camp.
“We told you so….,” says Dilip Ghosh adding, “By the time elections are held, Mamata Banerjee’s isolation will be complete”.
Frustrated at the manner things are moving, Trinamool leader Tapas Roy said the Congress and the Left should also join the alliance with Mamata’s party. Dilip Ghosh made opportune use of the same and said, “Trinamool has realised that it is impossible for them to fight BJP. Real Poribortan (change) is on cards and so people of Bengal realise that they need BJP and no longer needs Mamata”.