West Bengal Polls: A Major Challenge for BJP

Jayanta Ghosal

26 April, 2021 12:00 AM printer

The 2021 West Bengal Vidhan Sabha election is being termed as a National Assembly Election in different Indian news media. Generally, the Vidhan Sabha election of any state does not get such national priority or it was not marked so previously what happened in case of West Bengal Vidhan Sabha election. Not only in West Bengal, but Vidhan Sabha elections were held in Tamil Nadu, Kerala Pondicherry and Assam. It is natural for Bangladeshi readers to show keen interest to know the outcome of not only the West Bengal Vidhan Sabha election, but also that of Assam. Despite being a separate country, the two states of Assam and West Bengal are adjacent to Bangladesh. The cultural communication between Kolkata and Dhaka is long-standing and deep-rooted. The office and residence of the Deputy High Commissioner of Bangladesh in Kolkata bears the significance. It is also historic in the perspective of the 1971 Liberation War of Bangladesh. It is natural that Bangladeshi readers and political observers will show keen interest in the results of Assam and West Bengal state elections.

But, in the perspective of Indian domestic politics, the result of West Bengal election bears greater significance than that of Assam. The reason is that BJP is now the ruling party in Assam while Congress is an opposition party. In All-India perspective too, Congress is not in an encouraging situation. So, if Congress performs well then that will be a different story. But, if BJP returns to power in Assam then no tangible change will happen in the national politics of India. In West Bengal, it is the lone objective of BJP to bring an end to the ten-year rule of Mamata Banerjee. BJP wants to go to power for the first time in West Bengal. 

But why BJP has become so desperate for ascending to power in West Bengal? If really BJP goes to power in West Bengal, then how will the party be benefited? Above all, what will be its impact in All-India politics? Let me try to reply to the queries one by one. First of all, BJP has evolved from a party named Jana Sangh. When Jana Sangh was floated in 1951 then the party founder was Dr Shyama Prasad Mukhapadhya. He was not only a Bengalee, but also a Calcatian Bengalee. His father Sir Ashutosh Mukhapadhya was the vice-chancellor of Calcutta University. The house inhabited by them in South Kolkata is still a historic witness. Shyama Prasad Mukhapadhya did not get that much generous treatment from Nehru’s Congress. Whatever be it, a political conspiracy was hatched to erase his memory from the minds of Bengalees. BJP wants to arouse the Bengalee entity and identity anew through Shyama Prasad Mukhapadhya in an intention to rewrite its own story by opposing the pro-Nehru tale. If BJP comes out as a winner in West Bengal polls then it will help rewrite the tale of All-India Hindu nationalism. Atal Bihari Vajpayee and Lal Krishna Advani wanted to ascend to power in West Bengal. But, at that time BJP was not a majority party. Then, BJP had no power to oust CPM in West Bengal although it tried time and again. It lacked the organisational strength in the state; rather it was Mamata who ousted CPM. And BJP took part in anti-CPM politics by coming closer to Mamata for a certain period. As to why, parties like CPM and Congress allege that Mamata Banerjee took the responsibility of bringing BJP in West Bengal. However, Mamata does not admit it; rather she states that she had waged a political movement to oust CPM, not to bring BJP in the state. Who will be the political counterpart? If after a decade-old rule of Trinamool, BJP emerges as the main counterpart then it is not the liability of Mamata Banerjee. The liability goes to the communists and Congress party. The reason is that they could not sustain their supremacy. In such a situation, Modi undertook a project like ‘Mission Bangla.’ He regularly travelled to Kolkata like a daily passenger. He wants to ascend to power by hook or by crook.

Bangladesh has been informed that once BJP comes to power then Teesta agreement will become easier. I am rather keen to take the issue of BJP’s possibility of winning the West Bengal polls to a different degree. The 2024 Lok Sabha election is more important to the prime minister than Vidhan Sabha election. Corona has inflicted the entire country by adversely affecting the economy. We are passing through a critical period when there is dearth of oxygen in the capital, New Delhi. In the past, long queues were seen in village areas for fetching water. Just like that long lines can be seen now in front of hospitals for oxygen. The prime minister is not in favour of lockdowns, but the intensity of corona will increase if lockdowns are not imposed. This second wave has turned more violent. The British prime minister has cancelled his India trip. Again, the Indian PM has cancelled his Portugal visit. In daily infection rate, India is now virtually on top in the world. In such a miserable situation, the card of politics has been weakening. In such an adverse situation, Lok Sabha election is gradually coming nearer. If BJP comes out as a winner in West Bengal then a sort of political adrenalin will flow throughout the country. Narendra Modi’s political influence will rise before BJP supporters, BJP activists and the country’s entire population. By capitalising BJP’s victory in West Bengal and consolidating the grip of power in Assam, Modi will swiftly attain a place in 2024 Lok Sabha election. Rahul Gandhi, Mamata, Sharad Pawar and Stalin - the opposition camp will be shattered. The citizenship bill is a complex issue in West Bengal and Assam. It is even more complex while implementing it. That is why BJP has adopted a ‘go slow’ policy.     

Again on the opposite side, it will bring danger for BJP if the party fails to win polls in West Bengal and if it is ousted from power in Assam by Congress. If BJP is ousted in Assam then it would be very unfortunate for the party. BJP cannot even think of it. And on the other side, if BJP fails to ascend to power in West Bengal by any means then Mamata’s influence will be much greater. If Mamata gets a new lease for five or 10 years then she will emerge as the main character to pursue her anti-Modi politics. That possibility will be stronger as Sharad Pawar, Stalin and all other opposition leaders have sided with Mamata. They will come closer to her if she wins. Then it will be a new era of Indian politics.

Polls results will be known on May 2. Before that I won’t try to announce the polls results in advance by wearing a jersey of any party. I am a political analyst, not an astrologer. I have extensively travelled different parts of West Bengal. I have also visited Assam. In my opinion, it will be a neck-to-neck contest. The situation is undoubtedly adverse for Mamata Banerjee. But, she will remain in polls battle till the end. In such a situation, polls result is an acid for both BJP and Trinamool. Mamata is in power for 10 years. So, a defeat in election will be a great loss for her. But that is not exactly the case for BJP; it has nothing to lose.

In Vidhan Sabha, BJP has three MLAs. So, the party has everything for scoring victory. Narendra Modi has given much importance to Vidhan Sabha election. It has been turned into a national election. Under the circumstance, BJP too faces a challenge. If BJP is unable to come out victorious in polls, it will be a major setback for the party.     


The writer is a senior journalist of India

Translated by Z A M Khairuzzaman