By Tirthankar Mitra
Self help is the best help. Irked by the West Bengal unit seeking its help on issues big and small, national BJP leaders have asked the state unit to follow this time tested adage, sources in state unit said.
But the real reason of the state unit being asked to pull up its socks does not quite lie with it. The new thought has been sparked off from the electoral debacle in Karnataka where all the top guns of saffron camp including Prime Minister Narendra Modi and Union home minister Amit Shah hit the campaign trail.
Following the Karnataka election results and in the backdrop of 2024 Lok Sabha election inching closer, the saffron camp think tank is unwilling to convey the image that the party’s principal poll campaign spearhead has been blunted. The thought seems to be belated as the seemingly invincible Modi-Shah duo had been seen to come to the end of their winning run when Mamata Banerjee-led Trinamool Congress convincingly defeated the BJP in 2021 Assembly elections.
After this being pointed out, a senior state BJP leader said on condition of anonymity that election debacle in West Bengal and Karnataka are two entirely different propositions. After all, Trinamool is a regional outfit while despite huge depleted in numerical strength in the Lok Sabha and running only a few states, the Congress happens to be the principal opponent of BJP in national politics.
Small wonder, a defeat by the Congress carries a more far reaching consequence for BJP. Hence the decision to involve the national leadership read Prime Minister Modi and Union home minister Shah far more sparingly.
The failure of the saffron camp’s most formidable duo to ensure electoral success would carry a wrong message to the party rank and file. Disenchantment would set in and desertions are not ruled out, sources stated.
But the BJP national leadership can ill afford to place these facts before the state units. A fear of denting the image of the party’s principal campaigners is the last thing the BJP leadership desires.
Earmarking the West Bengal unit for the pep talk has reasons of its own. After an unexpected runaway electoral success fetching the BJP 18 seats in 2019 Lok Sabha elections, the saffron unit seemed to run out of steam if subsequent poll results are anything to go by.
The state especially Kolkata is a hot bed of agitations against TMC dispensation on several anti- government issues. But most of these stirs are being organised by Congress and CPI(M). The BJP is a smaller participant.
So tours of the Prime Minister Modi and his takes on shortcomings of the Trinamool state government will be on hold for some time. Of course, participation of the prime minister in next year’s election campaign in Bengal will be ensured but the impression will not be given that the PM is fighting the BJP’s battle in the state.
But the campaigning skills of Prime Minister Modi are more likely to be deployed when election fever has peaked. The saffron camp top brass are reluctant to throw in their best bet at the primary stage.
The directive to the West Bengal unit to be take its own decisions is a precursor to this game plan. The national leadership is unwilling to draw attention to the absence of the senior leaders when the campaign for Lok Sabha begins this year after the panchayat polls. The rural poll results will give some idea to the state and national leadership about the shape of the saffron organization.
The self help prescription has been given to prepare the ground for this strategy. The saffron camp leaders are aware that their party will be facing a make or break situation as soon as the election dates are announced next year.
BJP chief JP Nadda has entrusted Sunil Bansal, Amit Malaviya, Asha Lakra and Mangal Pandey with the organisational affairs of West Bengal. The four will be assisted by Satish Dhanad holding the post of joint general secretary (organisation) in the state unit.
The leaders have been asked to encourage young aspiring activists for greater responsibility. Besides strengthening the rank and file, a careful check is to be maintained to ensure that decisions taken by the top leadership gels with the grassroot ground realities.
Post election stock taking has revealed that such decisions have sometimes reduced chances of success of the saffron camp candidates. Taking into consideration the opinion of the local BJP leadership will thus be a part and parcel of the strategy targetting the next year’s electoral battle. (IPA Service)