Hubris expelled the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) in West Bengal. The BJP has become the epicenter of the current state elections after claiming itself as the next claimant to come to power at Nabbana Bhavan in Kolkata. True, the BJP did well in West Bengal in the 2019 Lok Sabha elections and there are reasons to be appalled. It has dug its strength and raised political capital by investing enormous time, energy and resources in the conduct of elections to avoid coercive issues, especially the epidemic.
The BJP has crafted an adjusted campaign when an error appears. When a deity like Hanuman did not attract the ination of the people to Hanu, it sought to emphasize the prosperity of the contemporary culture of West Bengal, choosing icons identified with the aristocracy and common folklore such as Swami Vivekananda and Ramakrishna Paramahamsa, simplifying their messages and taking them to the people. The BJP jumped on the bandwagon when it received reports of misappropriation of funds in the aftermath of the Amphan storm. Religion, Corruption and Bad Governance: The campaign is packaged in a toolkit that is well known and effectively used by the BJP in other states.
Soon, it will add 200 of the 294 seats in the state, which is so far-fetched that even Mamata Banerjee of the Trinamool Congress (TMC) did nothing like that before ousting the Left. West Bengal politics is about the party system, and it revolves around the cadre: recognized, nurtured and trained workers swear allegiance to the party. In fact, their beliefs never last. Some of them switched to the TMC after the end of the Left, and migrated to the BJP in recent months. Not every cadre person is fickle. Those with a commitment to expect a little from the establishment stay with the parent party. Therefore, Mamata realized that once the power of the left was done with the hangars, she would have to augment her own workforce for heavy lifting. It took her years to mobilize the armed forces to confront and suppress the left.
The BJP has no army except in some parts of North Bengal. Since 2018, it has hunted down local influencers from the TMC and the Left. Renegades are good up to a point: they can hold on to their territory, bring muscle and resources, and even make votes. But the state, they do not add significantly. Mamata’s former political colleague Suvendu Adhikari caught a gift to the BJP. He proved to be a formidable rival to Mamata in Nandigram, she only entered to prove a point to him instead of sticking to Bhawanipur, her comfort zone.
Like Tamil Nadu, West Bengal values its cultural identity, is isolated from politics and has a sense of regional pride. Can the BJP’s attempt to promote the politics of identity, exchange long-inherited traits that have served in the heartland, such as promoting sectarianism and gender sensitivity, alienate sections of the West Bengal electorate? A key moment in the campaign, Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s repeated reference to Mamata as “Didi, oh, didi”, in a harsh mix of sounds, rather than a disrespectful, dignified address, almost stopped women voters. Member of Parliament Dravida Munnetra Kazhagam (DMK) Tamil Nadu AIADMK Chief Minister Edapaddy Palaniswami’s insulting remarks to DMK Stalin will cost DMK valuable votes.
In short, there is no reason for the BJP to go downhill: the sharp rise from three to 80 seats in West Bengal, the infiltration of hostile Tamil Nadu and Kerala and the retention of Assam against the united opposition are all well on the party record. In relative terms, the party hopla on Mamata and its loss may have dampened its courage, which is not so easy to restore in persecuted West Bengal.
The BJP’s biggest consolation is the Congress bottom-up performance, which has weakened the chances of leading the opposition front. Kerala has dealt a major blow to Rahul Gandhi’s leadership because he has a Lok Sabha seat, Wayanad, and his trusted aide KC Venugopal oversaw the elections, to the mischief of party veterans. In West Bengal, it did not simply register its presence because it was dominated by the Left Front and the New Indian Secular Front. In Assam, questions are being asked about Badruddin Ajmal’s alliance with the All India United Democratic Front to keep Muslim votes together. The Congress may have lost some Hindu votes in the bargaining as voters seemed to be making gains in upper Assam, which is upset with the amendment to the citizenship law. The BJP, however, retained the area.
Before 2024 there are important elections to fight, win or lose. Today’s results suggest the concentration of regional parties in challenging the BJP. Hemant Soren of Jharkhand Mukti Morcha defeated the BJP. Now that Mamata and DMK president MK Stalin have emerged as powerhouses for the Federal Front, Congress needs to think about this. The question is, who will lead the prospective front? Mamata or Sharad Pawar? Coincidentally, it was the first big league power to congratulate Mamata.