Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) president Amit Shah has charted the party’s Mission Bengal during his three-day tour to the state. Shah’s Bengal visit is part of his 95-day-long countrywide whirlwind tour to galvanise the party cadre and expand the BJP’s footprints ahead of the 2019 elections.
Pertinent to mention that Shah’s nationwide tour has started from West Bengal. So why is Bengal important in BJP’s scheme of things? So far, the state has been one of the unconquered territories of the saffron party. This time Amit Shah is sanguine about the BJP striking gold in West Bengal.
On 26 April, Shah addressed booth level workers at Bhowanipore, the backyard of TMC chief Mamata Banerjee. Bhowanipore, which comes under South Kolkata Lok Sabha constituency, was once the stronghold of Syama Prasad Mookerjee, the founder of Bharatiya Jana Sangh, the precursor of the BJP.
“The BJP rules 70 per cent of the country. But I feel until it comes to power in Bengal, the mission of Ebar Bangla (Bengal Now) will not be accomplished. The lotus will bloom in Bhowanipore too,” the BJP president said.
Ebar Bangla (Now Bengal) is the new clarion call for the BJP in Bengal as the party readies itself to “liberate” the state from Mamata’s misrule and recreate a Sonar Bangla (Golden Bengal).
This is not to dispute that in the upcoming elections, the BJP is going to use Saradha chit fund scam and the Narada scam as its trump card.
Saradha chit fund scam, a financial scandal caused by the collapse of a Ponzi scheme run by Saradha Group, has put the Mamata Banerjee government in a tight spot. Deposits of as many as 17 lakh investors in the State – majority of them from low-income families – were duped.
Investigations have revealed that a lion share of the chit fund money had reached Bangladesh-based terror outfit Jamaat-e-Islami. A number of TMC MPs and MLAs were questioned and even arrested in connection to the case. Further, the CBI has booked 12 TMC leaders, including some ministers and MPs, in Narada sting case. After the Saradha chit fund scam, Narada sting has pushed the TMC into a further corner. Both the scams have big implications on Bengal politics.
“Let us free Bengal from the cycle of Narada and Sarada. Let us liberate Bengal from the politics of decades of decay,” Shah thundered.
The seven year long Mamata rule has seen wide minority appeasement and anti-Hindu politics with Bengal slowly turning into a communal cauldron. A wave of riots has hit the state hard.
“The situation in Bengal is worrisome. Instead of Rabindra Sangeet, the sounds of bombs are now heard in the state. TMC’s appeasement politics has attacked the very heart and soul of Bengal,” the BJP president said while addressing a Press conference in the city.
“Sonar Bangla has been destroyed over the years because of the politics of neglect and appeasement,” he added.
Pointing out the difference between the TMC and the BJP, Amit Shah said, “TMC used chit funds to take money from poor, while the BJP has initiated Jan Dhan Yojana and empowered the poor.”
“I am confident that in the manner the BJP is growing, we will emerge with highest number of Lok Sabha seats from the state,” he said.
In a powerful address to eminent citizens in the state at the historic Mahajati Sadan in Kolkata, Shah recalled that Bengal was once the centre of cultural nationalism.
“The politics of violence and appeasement by Mamata Banerjee cannot stop the BJP chariot in Bengal,” he said.
The BJP president has kicked up the party’s expansion drive from Naxalbari village in Siliguri on 26 April. Naxalbari was the birthplace of the Naxal movement in late 1960s and early 1970s. What had started as a left-wing peasants uprising took the turns of a violent Red Terror affecting the country.
Symbolism has its importance in politics. Amit Shah’s visit to Naxalbari, a day after 26 CRPF jawans were martyred in a Maoist ambush in the neighbouring Chhattisgarh, certainly bears its significance.
“This Naxalbari gave birth to violence that affects country even today. Here we pledge to Modiji’s motto of Sabka saath sabka vikas (Together with all, development for all),” he said.
“TMC may think that it can stop Modiji’s chariot in Bengal, but they cannot. The more they try to stop us, the more the lotus will bloom here,” the BJP president said. “In 2019 Lok Sabha elections, the BJP will get the maximum number of seats in West Bengal,” a confident Shah said.
Political writer, policy observer.