By Tirthankar Mitra
The Bengal unit of BJP is in dire straits now as the leadership has no face to face its supporters after the big flop of the party rally addressed by the Home Minister Amit Shah on Wednesday afternoon. All the earlier big hype made by the big guns of the party came to a cropper as Shah, thoroughly dissatisfied at the small size of the rally spoke only for 23 minutes and gave no clarion call for the removal of the Mamata government which the saffron crowd was expecting.
The obsequious men and women around him on the makeshift podium at Dharmatala, made affirmative noises. But the second tallest leader of the BJP saw it all and left the podium in a huff. The few thousands who came to hear their leader went back wit little enthusiasm to fight the ruling Trinamool Congress.
Interestingly, from Thursday morning, the twin central probe agencies, CBI and ED started raiding the residences and places of work of Trinamool leaders. To call a spade by no other name, these agencies are being used by the BJP to pin down the ruling party leaders of the state.
Whenever the Trinamool leadership is convening a rally, the speakers are invoking the names of the probe agencies to be the principal sources of their “harassment.” Not unnoticed by the state BJP top brass, it has been reported to Union home minister, Shah too.
Burning issues of alleged corruption against the state government’s are for all there to see. So is the paucity of the agitations by state unit of the BJP on these issues.
The saffron cadre force in West Bengal is in so many words directionless. More often than not, the party rank and file come across their leaders not in local party offices but in news channel studios participating in talk shows.
A party office of BJP near chief minister Mamata Banerjee’s home is closed. It is a clear pointer that the biggest Opposition party in the state is unable to make its presence felt at a spot where it was most needed.
The performance of state BJP leaders on television screen may earn them kudos from some viewers. But the party activists are none the wiser when the call for the next agitation programme will be delayed.
The state leadership dare not voice the actual state of affairs. For they are chary of not only a rap on the knuckles but removal from the post. Against this backdrop, the 2024. Lok Sabha elections will be vastly different from the 2019 parliamentary polls in West Bengal. Nor will it resemble the 2021 Assembly polls in the state
In 2019, a significant section of the populace chose to vote wholeheartedly for the saffron party’s nominees. It was a litmus test of sorts for the BJP nominees. It led to BJP getting 18 MPs from West Bengal, its tally being an all-time high for the party. Five years have gone by and the stirs powered by the unexpected support base these MPs had overnight acquired are no more.
The numerical strength of BJP, and the organisational muscles which the state unit was to acquire therefrom exist only on paper. Lack of agitations, a few MPs have regretted can be laid at the door of not finding several berths in the Union Cabinet.
It is a lame excuse. Besides it will not cut any ice with those who had voted for BJP five years ago. The state BJP was in for a windfall in 2021assembly elections. Pulling out all stops, Prime Minister Narendra Modi and Union home minister, Shah crisscrossed the state together with other leading lights of the party.
It seems that the voters seeing the saffron unit’s inaction were unimpressed by this sporadic burst of election campaigning. Thinking the BJP’s head honchos words will not be followed up by deeds, they voted overwhelmingly for the Trinamool nominees.
Not even engineering a spate of defections from TMC, could the BJP swing the elections. A wheel chair bound chief minister Banerjee campaigning with a bandaged leg took the wind off the BJP sails.
Even in the unlikely event of a unique campaign plan next year, the BJP will be all at sea as Modi and Shah, two of its most charismatic leaders being busy in a nationwide poll campaign will be devoting much less time to West Bengal.
In sum, the morale of the state BJP rank and file post-Amit Shah rally, is further down. Grassroot workers raring to plunge into coming agitations much less in next year’s election campaign is the last thing the saffron leadership in West Bengal can hope for. A weakened BJP will be facing the TMC in the coming Lok Sabha polls compared to its strength during 2019 polls. (IPA Service)