By Arun Srivastava
While Prime Minister Narendra Modi forfeited his national stature to Mamata Banerjee, the constitutional body, Election Commission of India, smeared its own image by denying to furnish the victory certificate to Mamata from Nandigram. Both these entities have the right to vehemently deny that this observation has any iota of truth, but the fact remains that both have become the victims of the unscrupulous politics of Amit Shah.
It was the remark of Shah, just after EC denied the certificate, that reinforces the belief. Shah without losing time quipped:” now she should go to the governor and resign”. This comment coming from the self-styled Chanakya of BJP really questions his motive and also his political acumen. Resignation is not the only alternative before her. She has at least three options. She may approach the highest judiciary. She can force the EC to recount the votes. But one thing is clear: it would spoil the image of the EC, already facing the threat of capital punishment from Madras High Court, beyond comprehension.
Ever since Shah became the home minister he has launched a vitriolic campaign against Mamata. Like in any other state, the BJP performed well in 2019 Lok Sabha election but ironically he mistook it as peoples’ endorsement of his style of politics. He resorted to the same mode of electioneering in 2021 assembly elections. Repeating the 2019 model of campaigning was his biggest mistake. Through his body language he wanted to send the message that Bengal is a lost case and its people are worthless. He undermined the Bengali culture though for political compulsions he parroted some quotes. These were not enough to reach out to the Bengali people.
If only he or his mentor Narendra Modi would have understood the ethical aspect of the Bengali culture, they would not have dared to import the Gujarati or Maharashtrian mode of the Hindutva and hybrid culture.
As both these leaders are not politicians in the true sense of the term and depend on muscle power and the mercenary strength of the state machinery, the people are scared of putting their personal views which in most of the cases have been of divergent nature before them. The same thing happened in the case of Bengali BJP leaders. They know that traditionally the Bengalis have been the worshippers of Ma Durga, but they could not muster courage to tell the two leaders on their face not to play up the slogan of Jai Sri Ram, which does not reflect the Bengali cultural ethos.
There is a famous adage in urdu “nim hakim khatarejaan” (quake endangers life). These leaders were superficially briefed by their speech writers about the legacy of Tagore, Nazrul and other Bengali legends. The leaders parroted some lines from their writings without properly understanding the proper implication. While addressing the rallies they vomited the half-baked narratives. These proved disastrous and really hurt the prospect of the party.
Autocrats usually have no patience to listen to the suggestions. They prefer the people to believe what they say as the sermons of the rulers. Modi uttering “didi o didi” resonated lewd feel. This was disliked by the Bengali women and perceived it as inflicting insult on the womanhood. Why it hurt most owes to the claim of RSS and BJP as being the protector and promoter of Hindu culture. The women fraternity was at a loss to make out how could a leader who claims to be the Hindu Hriday Samrat stoop so low and insult the women. For women of Bengal, Mamata symbolises the prestige and honour of women, cutting across caste, class and communal lines. The Bengali women, whether Hindu or Muslim, took his jibe as an insult to women. This primarily was the reason that they voted in mass for Mamata. Bengal reposed faith in its “daughter” and paved the way for a resounding victory for the Trinamool Congress. Together with the politics of hatred, the state has rejected cultural and social coercion and risen up against insults heaped on a woman leader by powerful male politicians.
At a time when Modi is facing the worst nature of rebuff from academics and intellectuals, at both the national and international fora, his accusation against Mamata did not find appreciation from the people. Comparison of his performance with that of Mamata weighed less. A number of holes were visible in his claims. Modi has miserably failed to empower the poor and Dalits. His stand on right to food and MNREGA has been severely criticised. His failure to come forward to help the labourers and daily wage earners during the first phase of corona had broken the myth of his being the friend of poor. People have come to believe the assertion that he was out to sell the country to benefit a few rich friends.
The day the two leaders formally launched their campaign, they had turned suspect in the eyes of the people. Both claimed that the BJP would be getting around 220 seats. In fact, there were very few takers of this loud claim. The reason was the people of state had come to realise their nefarious design to split the citizens on linguistic and sub-nationality basis. No doubt the united Bengal had witnessed the worst form of communal riot in 1946. But since then the people of the state enjoyed only one identity, that is of being Bengali. The Bengali language and literature came to symbolise the Bengali cultural ethos. This was for the first time during an election the BJP was trying to dig the century old past and reignite the communal hatred. Owaisi’s AIMIM and Abbas Siddiqui’s ISF failed to make an impression as the minorities threw their weight behind Mamata Banerjee in her high-stakes contest against the BJP. According to the trends and results, the Indian Secular Front (ISF), which had stitched an alliance with the Left parties and the Congress, and was contesting on 26 seats, was a dismal showing in the 292 assembly segments that went to polls.
No doubt the BJP managed to divide the Hindus on the lines of non-Bengali and Bengali Hindus, but it did not succeed in polarising the Hindus as it managed to do in other states. An analysis of the votes polled by the BJP would underline that the neo-middle class non-Bengalis belonging to the OBC, Brahmin hailing from Bihar and Uttar Pradesh and a section of Marwaris and Gujaratis voted for BJP. A major section of the non-Bengalis who have already assimilated with the original Bengalis and bhadralok voted for TMC. In fact, this section has traditionally been the support base for the Congress. In the past also some leaders belonging to this section were leading members of the Congress.
There is no denying the fact that Modi and Shah have very poor knowledge and understanding of the demographic structure and character of the country. That is the reason that the BJP lost all the elections whether it was municipal or corporations or boards. Modi and Shah based on their utopian notions had claimed that they would win 220 seats. But the BJP has failed to cross the double digits. Modi and Shah were dependent on the TMC turncoats. Obviously they had to. In a state where the party has no ground level support base, they had no alternative but to depend on them. Shah rehabilitated them even after being aware that were involved in corruption and were hated by the people for their ineptitude. Modi was looking forward to install a BJP government led by these leaders. The electoral performance of Trinamool Congress turncoats, who defected to the BJP just months ahead of the assembly elections, have mostly been disappointing. (IPA Service)