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Why West Bengal is in a hostage situation with no good choices

There is a method to his madness in Mamata's Bengal

Another day, another murder of a BJP worker in Bengal.

The violence from Bengal has become so routine and so mind-numbing that people don’t seem to react any more. The TMC’s reign of terror continues from one day to the next.

The question is where is the TMC going with this? Are they crazy? To a large extent, this is true. But if you think just a bit more, you realize that there is definitely a method behind the madness.

First of all, let’s say the obvious. Mamata Banerjee knows that it’s all over for her in Bengal in 2021. I don’t just mean to say she will lose. I mean it’s over for her party. This is going to be no ordinary defeat. It will be a shattering defeat that will leave the TMC struggling to win even 50-60 seats out of 294.

The numbers tell the story and they don’t lie. The BJP’s voteshare in Bengal is 40%, which is a mere 3% behind the TMC. If you account for the fact that the BJP did not win any seats in the region around Kolkata in the last phase, it suggests that their margins in Purulia, Medinipur, etc (regions close to Jharkhand) and in North Bengal would have been huge.

Now let’s do the simple math. A 40% vote share overall. The Hindu population of Bengal is around 70%. That works out to a mind boggling conclusion : over 57% of Bengali Hindus have voted for BJP. This is Hindu consolidation on a scale perhaps unprecedented in the history of the state. With caste playing almost no role in Bengal, there are no checks to slow down this wave. By 2021, this number could rise above 80%.

It’s going to happen.

There is really nothing Mamata can do to stop this. In fact, it is really bad news for her that she has two full years before the Assembly Election. The farther away the election, the worse for her. Because the BJP is gaining voters with every single day.

This is generally the worst phase for an incumbent government to be in. Sort of like the Congress around mid-2013. If the election was in Sept 2013 say, the Congress perhaps would have not lost so badly. But it dragged on and on…..the public anger kept snowballing with every passing day. It’s a period when anti-incumbency becomes so pervasive that the government passes into a kind of unreal twilight zone. It seems they can’t get anything right. The people pull them up for literally everything they do. In fact, the government becomes a magnet for people looking to vent out all the frustrations in their lives.

By the time the election finally arrives, the incumbent is practically begging to be put out of their misery. The government of West Bengal is currently in that phase.

Mamata Banerjee knows this. She is too clever a politician not to get it. On top of that, she has made a devastating tactical error. Getting out of her car and getting three people arrested for saying Jai Shri Ram in a moment of rage is something she will regret.

Now every kid in West Bengal is out there taunting her with Jai Shri Ram slogans. Kids are making TikTok skits that show her getting angry at Jai Shri Ram slogans. That’s when you know it has gone deep into the culture. And there’s no logical comeback from the TMC for this. They are in an indefensible position.  You simply can’t find fault with people for saying Jai Shri Ram. Not possible. Especially not when 57% of Hindus are already against you.

That’s the madness. Where is the method?

There is only *one* thing Mamata Banerjee can do to turn Bengal around. The TMC has to somehow portray itself as a victim. But how?

I would say this is what is really behind the wave of violence in Bengal that has not abated even after May 23. The TMC is throwing the gauntlet before Modi and Shah, taunting them, daring them.

They are literally *trying* to get their government dismissed.

So many BJP supporters online say that Bengal should be put under President’s rule. But I have to ask: how exactly does it help in saving lives?

You can’t have President’s rule for more than 6 months. After that it can be extended for another 6 months max. During this period, you can either dissolve the Assembly or keep it in suspended animation. If it is kept in suspended animation, Mamata Banerjee just gets back all her power after a year’s break. Otherwise, there are fresh elections, Mamata Banerjee gets to play victim and perhaps has a realistic chance of winning again and ruling for five years. So does it really help save anybody?

The state is now entering a horrifying situation. There is no way TMC can win under “normal” circumstances. The incentive for the TMC is to keep making the situation worse, trying to get President’s Rule. Or at very least, push BJP workers to the point where they might go into open revolt, demanding that the powerful Central government intervene to save their lives.

And this means, there is going to be more and more violence in Bengal.

This is like IC-814 and the Kandahar hijack. Do you save the lives of the people on the hijacked plane in this instant? But what of the fact that Masood Azhar will ultimately kill more people if he is released?

This is a hostage situation. The TMC is holding BJP workers in Bengal hostage. And there are no good choices.

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Abhishek Banerjeehttps://dynastycrooks.wordpress.com/
Abhishek Banerjee is a math lover who may or may not be an Associate Professor at IISc Bangalore. He is the author of Operation Johar - A Love Story, a novel on the pain of left wing terror in Jharkhand, available on Amazon here.  

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