She may well have been very cocky all this time about her party’s election chances, but ground realities are fast catching up with West Bengal Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee. With a four-cornered race in virtually every Lok Sabha seats, didi realises her well thought-out plan to be a kingmaker or queen herself can easily go awry. After the snub from Anna, the TMC chief is busy consolidating her position in home state. In meetings and workshops, she is spending significant amount of time attacking Narendra Modi and his ideology.
Increasing popularity of BJP
BJP hasn’t been a dominant force in Bengal. The land of ShyamaPrasad Mukherjee never really warmed up to RSS ideology. BJP’s heyday came when aligning with TMC it won couple of Lok Sabha seats in 1999. Currently, it has a single MP (Yashwant Singh) from WB and no MLA in the state legislative. But according to pollsters there seems to be a sharp spike in support for BJP. Some polls suggests it may get as high as 12% votes. This has evidently made TMC supremo iffy. In a party workshop at Pailan, she blasted Namo saying that there is no wave and NDA will not form the next government. But only next day, she cautioned voters not to vote for BJP. She alleged that the party has put up candidates only with the sinister design of helping congress and CPIM win by vote division. She also accused the saffron brigade of trying to polarise electorates across communal lines.
Didi’s Damage control
According to pundits, Mamata Banerjee’s fears are justified. There are at least 10 constituencies in the state where BJP is a potential game changer. It already has pulled a coup virtually ensuring a win in Darjeeling by again getting support of GJM. In places like Krishna Nagar, Dumdum, Asansol and Howrah, it is putting up a formidable fight. In the border areas, it is tapping into resentment of locals about the infiltration going on from Bangladesh. In Basirhat, TMC has been forced to change their seating candidate who was accused by BJP of fomenting communal riots. In Kolkata and surrounding areas, within abangali (Non Bengali) voters, there is significant influence of BJP. The perceived Modi wave has ensured that many fence sitters are also planning to queue up to vote for BJP candidates. Abangali voters’ especially Marwaris are peeved with the state government over AMRI incident. Some of them feel that they were unfairly targeted. Now, the chief minister is trying to placate them. She has reached out to this section by championing the inclusive nature of her government.
Pressure from outside
There is another school of thought about didi’s increasing rhetoric against BJP, which is still a relatively minor player in the state. Imam of Tipu Sultan Mosque Maulana Barkati has recently urged the CM to be more critical about Narendra Modi. Imam had earlier openly supported TMC, but in a statement to news agency praised Rahul Gandhi for taking on Namo. Some pundits are of the view didi may have recalibrated her stand after Imam’s opinion came into spotlight. In a crunch election she certainly would not like the crucial minority vote bank to elude her.
Narendra Modi in his Brigade rally indirectly tried to extend the olive branch to Mamata Banerjee. He hoped that the new central government will have good working relation with state. But didi seems like unwilling to take the bait as of now. She would rather like to make BJP insignificant to grab lion share of seats in the Lok Sabha Elections. Expect a lot more fireworks from her in coming days!!!