Has the BJP Become a Big Bundle of Contradictions in West Bengal?

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Union Minister of Home Affairs Amit Shah at South 24 Parganas, Namkhana in West Bengal on Feb 18, 2021 ( Photo: Kuntal Chakrabarty/IANS) Attachments are

Reports from various places suggest that unlike in the last Lok Sabha election the scenario within the BJP is somewhat akin to an overloaded ship

Soroor Ahmed | Clarion India

THEY are both asset and liability for the Bharatiya Janata Party in West Bengal. They have organisational experience at the grassroots level and in Trinamool Congress chief, Mamata Banerjee, a common rival.

The deserters from the Left parties had played a crucial role in ensuring victory of the BJP in 18 seats in 2019 Lok Sabha election. The truth is that it was the complete shift of the Left votes which helped the BJP increase its voting percentage to around 40. Mamata’s figure did not come down much and it remained at around 42 percent.

But ahead of the 2021 Assembly election an interesting development has taken place. The Trinamool Congress witnessed a big desertion. This lot too moved towards the BJP. So apparently it should have been 2+2 is equal to four. But at the ground level this is not happening at many places.  The convergence of the turncoats from TMC and the deserters from the CPM and its allies to the BJP is causing friction within the saffron brigade which is unable to cash in on this advantage.

The former Marxist cadres and the ex-TMC leaders may be adjusting to the new reality in the BJP, but the voters are not so enthusiastic, especially at places where the Left Front workers had, during their rule, been accused of crushing the people’s voice.

Take the example of Nandigram, a prestigious seat in East Midnapore, and Singur in Hooghly districts.

In Nandigram, Suvendhu Adhikari, a former close aide of Mamata and one of her senior ministers, is now challenging her in the election scheduled on April 1. As Suvendhu has a considerable clout in East and even West Midnapore districts and his father and brother are MPs, he naturally enjoys a good hold over the region. But at the bottom level the scenario is not so rosy.

Though many voters still appreciate Suvendhu’s role during the 2006-08 struggle against the land acquisition policy of the then Buddhadeb Bhattacharya government, they are not going to accept him rubbing shoulders with the same Marxist lot, who had allegedly fired on the people then.

Many voters are upset—especially those who have lost family members in the struggle—as today both the former Left Front worker, the alleged perpetrators of the atrocities, along with Suvendhu, are in the saffron brigade. These voters are prepared to forgive Mamata government’s failure on several counts, but they are not going to forget her great contributions during the land struggle in which more than two dozen people lost their lives in two major incidents of firing. The government wanted to acquire land for Special Economic Zone.

Several years after coming to power the Mamata government withdrew cases lodged by the police against those involved in struggle in Nandigram then. But recently a BJP leader, Nilanjan Adhikari, filed a PIL in this regard. The Calcutta High Court ordered the reopening of the case.

Though the BJP apparently sought judicial intervention against all the 63 whose name figured in that case the main target was Mamata’s polling agent, S.K. Sufian. But some of them against whom the case was withdrawn are now in the BJP and they too went underground as they also fear that the police would arrest them. So, the move of the BJP in some way actually backfired.

Not only that, the Supreme Court on March 26 stayed the judicial intervention and allowed Sufian to function as Mamata’s polling agent.

At the local level, the BJP’s initiative to move court was not liked by many people as it not only involved Sufian but many others—some of them had over the years even developed soft corner for the BJP.

Similar is the case in Singur where the TMC had fielded Becharam Manna, a hero of the movement against land acquisition for Nano car project during the same period.

The TMC had given him ticket overlooking the claim of its own sitting MLA and another champion of the same movement, Rabindranath Bhattacharya on the plea that he is now 90 year old.

The latter crossed over to the BJP on March 8 and got the party ticket a few days later. This too is causing a lot of resentment within the BJP rank and file.

Apart from these two instances, reports from various places suggest that unlike in the last Lok Sabha election the scenario within the BJP is somewhat akin to an overloaded ship which has run aground as the one in Suez Canal recently.

The truth is that the saffron party is facing the problem of plenty and thus there are many in the rank and file who are working at cross-purposes and thus jeopardising its poll-prospects.

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