Mamata Banerjee faces BJP challenge in West Bengal
Armed with peoples’ support, BJP called for a ‘Trinamool-free’ Bengal. The party organised a massive Bangla Bachao Rally on the occasion of the death anniversary of Syama Prasad Mookerjee.
It is an unexpected turn of events in West Bengal politics. Post-Lok Sabha election, Bengal BJP’s membership has risen by over two lakhs. Moreover, the party’s minority cell and women’s wing have witnessed an almost 50 per cent jump in membership in the last six months.
There has been a huge outflow of workers from the Trinamool Congress, CPM and Congress to the BJP in West Bengal. Aam Aadmi Party’s Bengal unit has already merged itself with the BJP.
The BJP had never been a force in Bengal politics traditionally. The party had only some influence in a few pockets of the State. As recently as five years ago, BJP in Bengal was struggling hard to bring new members into its fold. In 2010, the Bengal BJP had membership of a measly 90,000. Today, the party’s membership has touched almost six lakhs and is still increasing. Lakhs of people from various walks of life are also in touch with the party to become its member.
This is for the first time that the BJP has emerged as a party to reckon with in West Bengal’s political arena.
Lok Sabha election 2014 saw a tectonic shift in Bengal politics. For the first time, BJP won two Lok Sabha seats in the State on its own. Party’s vote share jumped to a whopping 17 per cent, a three-fold spurt from just 6 per cent in 2009 general election.
In voters’ perception, the BJP has already walked into the Opposition’s space, a place which was decorated by the CPM in Mamata era. Observers of Bengal politics say that after the demise of Jyoti Basu and with declining support base, the leaderless Bengal CPM is merely playing the role of ‘dummy Opposition’ and hence the space for Opposition in the State has been vacant since long. Now, the BJP has occupied that space.
The rise of BJP in Bengal has prompted Mamata Banerjee to embrace her political enemy – the CPM. Even though, she fought against the CPM’s ideology for four decades.
The rise of BJP in the State has left Mamata Banerjee in utter panic and fear. Widespread rigging by Trinamool hooligans in the just-held Lok Sabha election and the rising atrocities against the BJP workers underscore the very fact. There are three factors which have contributed for the steady rise of BJP in Bengal.
First, it was the Modi wave which made the BJP an unexpected force to reckon with.
Second, it is the wild minority appeasement policy of the Mamata Banerjee Government which has contributed to the growth of BJP in the State. Mamata Government chooses to stay soft on the illegal Bangladeshis who pose grave threat to the demographic structure of West Bengal. In Mamata’s rule, West Bengal has witnessed several atrocities against Hindus. It is not only the anti-Hindu activities the TMC Government has been involved in, but Mamata Banerjee has also encouraged anti-national sentiments in the State. Allowing a protest rally against the hanging of Parliament House attack mastermind Afzal Guru can be cited as a case in point.
Third, the rise of BJP in Bengal has much to do with the rise of RSS and other nationalist organisations in last five years. The number of RSS sakhas, which stopped assembling owing to lack of peoples’ participation, has increased many-fold.
The intelligentsia of West Bengal is looking at the BJP as the real alternative to Mamata. They feel it is only the BJP which can address the acute unemployment problem in the State by bringing in industries, and stop mass brain drain from the State.
Armed with peoples’ support, BJP called for a ‘Trinamool-free’ Bengal. The party organised a massive Bangla Bachao Rally on the occasion of the death anniversary of Jan Sangh founder Syama Prasad Mookerjee.
BJP is gearing up for the upcoming urban local body polls. The party has already planned an early preparation for the 2016 Assembly election which will see a direct battle between Trinamool Congress and the BJP. The Bengal BJP has to sustain this momentum.