By Arun Srivastava
Notwithstanding the subjective conditions strongly impeding the BJP’s political interest in allowing holding of the by polls in the state, the announcement of the election commission to hold the by elections for facilitating Mamata Banerjee to get elected to assembly has been quite significant and has come as a severe shock to the state BJP leaders.
It is an open secret that Narendra Modi and Amit Shah have opposed to holding the by election and furnish the opportunity to Mamata on platter to rule the state for next five years. Both the leaders have been working on the plan to destabilise the Mamata government and force a split which would eventually help the BJP to come to power through back gate. But the latest development points to the fact that the politics of survival ultimately prevailed on them to make amends.
No doubt some surveys have predicted that Modi has been gaining back his popularity and image, the fact remains and it is endorsed by a number of surveys that his popularity has been constantly on decline and if the latest studies are to be believed it has declined to 21 per cent, a sharp fall from a year back popularity of 66 per cent.
The farmers’ movement acquiring a bigger dynamics and wider dimension has been yet another reason for Modi’s worries. He had been dependent on the RSS cadres at the block level to project him, but this base has started showing signs of cracks. The traditional Brahmins cadres in Uttar Pradesh and Haryana have turned hostile. Since using vocal power to oppose the leadership has been against the RSS traditions, these cadres have been maintaining a passive silence. But they are not willing to promote the stand of the leadership. The recent changes in the RSS stakeholders at the district levels and leaders at the state level were no only meant to rejuvenate the organisation but also to win over their confidence and trust.
Since the RSS cadres have their roots at the village level, they are aware of the plights of the farmers and even feel that they were badly ill-treated by Modi-Shah combine. Though Modi Shah are scared of the growing support of the farmers movement, it is the intensifying hostility amongst the RSS activists that has been source of acute concertation.
What is surprising is the national leaders and the state leaders of BJP are not on the same page on Mamata issue. The state leaders are confused and flabbergasted at the stand of their national leaders of giving a green signal to the election commission to hold the elections. They have a very poor quality of understanding is manifest in their internal quarrel on who will oppose Mamata and their seeking judicial recourse to debar Mamata from contesting the election. The state president Dilip Ghosh said that his party is exploring the option of moving the Calcutta High Court against the Election Commission’s move to hold by poll in Bhawanipur.
The intra group rivalry has also surfaced in a strong manner with leaders opposed to Subhendu Adhikar blue eyed boy of Amit Shah arguing that he should contest against Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee in the upcoming Assembly bypoll for the Bhawanipur constituency. Several leaders and workers of the constituency have conveyed to state leaders that they are against the possible candidature of Rudranil Ghosh
The BJP was on Monday divided over whether it should field a candidate against Mamata Banerjee or approach the judiciary against the byelection even as just four days were left for the filing of nominations. Ghosh held “there was something wrong” with the poll panel’s decision and the party was taking legal advice on the issue to contest the decision. Interestingly the detractors of Subhendu have already approached the central leadership to field him candidate as he has been going around the political and boasting as the next chief minister.
Some state BJP leaders allege that the party’s Bengal unit had a misplaced sense of confidence that the Election Commission would continue toeing the saffron camp’s line and keep deferring the bypolls so that Mamata would miss her November 5 deadline to get elected to the Assembly. A senior leader quipped; “It is surprising that our leaders had no plan B and actually had unflinching faith in the central leadership’s ability to browbeat the commission into further deferring the bypolls. They never really considered the possibility of the bypolls taking place any time soon. As a result, no candidate was seriously considered.”
Some leaders thinking of approaching the judiciary for a stay on the bypoll is the clear manifestation of their utter lack of political maturity. The Trinamul Congress on Sunday formally announced Mamata as its candidate for the Bhowanipore bypoll which will be held on September 30. The party also nominated Jakir Hossain and Amirul Islam for the Jangipur and Samserganj bypolls, respectively.
Significantly with the intention to keep Mamata confined to Bengal, central BJP has decided to intensify the agitation for separate north Bengal state. Darjeeling BJP MP Raju Bista had said recently that in this regard the Centre would hold a meeting with the state government and hill stakeholders next month. Party sources meanwhile maintain that Amit Shah will visit north Bengal in September in the backdrop of a rapid realignment of politics in the Darjeeling hills and some BJP leaders’ demand for north Bengal’s statehood. This will be his first visit after the election waterloo the party faced in the state. The BJP bagged 30 out of 54 Assembly seats in the region.
“In the hills, a number of regional parties and even some apolitical organisations like the National Gorkhaland Committee have renewed their demand for the permanent political solution (PPS). The situation in the hills is fluid and he is likely to go there,” said a source. Already the Alipurduar MP and Union minister of state John Barla has come out with the demand to turn north Bengal into a state or a Union territory. He has been backed by Cooch Behar BJP MP Nisith Pramanik, who is also a Union minister of state. Sources maintain that Shah is aware of the fast-paced changes taking place in the region and he is monitoring the developments to help his party.. (IPA Service)