Narendra Modi and Amit Shah have pioneered a tectonic shift in Indian politics. After the Aam Aadmi Party was forced to cater to Hindu sentiments in order to win elections, it appears that other parties are taking a leaf out of their book to reinvent themselves in Bengal politics. In a secret party note, the Left has told its senior party leaders that greater participation in Hindu festivals and Temple activities is required to combat the BJP in Bengal, Times Now has reported.
#Breaking | Left to appropriate temples & Hindu festivals to combat RSS in Bengal. TIMES NOW accesses a secret party note that mentions how the party has to engage in Hindu fests. Marxism seems to be ‘a thing of past’.
Details by TIMES NOW’s Tamal Saha. pic.twitter.com/zdDrdMtYC7
— TIMES NOW (@TimesNow) February 18, 2020
One line in the document says, “Temples and other related activities cannot be forfeited to the RSS.” The strategy, quite obviously, has been made keeping in mind the 2021 Bengal Assembly Elections which could very well turn into a bipolar contest between the Trinamool Congress and the BJP should the Left fail to reinvent itself. In the 2019 Lok Sabha Elections, the Left failed to win a single seat in the state that it had dominated for decades. Its vote-share had collapsed to 6.28% while the BJP managed increased its tally to 18 seats from 2 and its vote share crossed 40%.
Since then, the politics in the state has revolved around the contest between Mamata Banerjee and the BJP and the Left is staring at political oblivion in West Bengal. Thus, under such circumstances, the Left realizes that it has to alter its politics radically if it is to remain a crucial player in the state. Only five years ago, prominent CPI(M) leader Bikash Ranjan Bhattacharya had participated in a beef festival organized in Kolkata in protest against a beef ban in a state. It’s a remarkable shift since then.
In the aftermath of the Lok Sabha Elections where the BJP had registered a stellar performance, we at OpIndia had said that the results marked the dawn of religious politics in West Bengal and we had predicted that going forward, the results will be determined by the extent of religious polarization among the electorate. It appears that our prediction has been proven accurate as the Left is forced to cater to Hindu sentiments in order to regain legitimacy as a valid political alternative.
In the 2019 Lok Sabha Elections, the traditional voters of the Left had crossed over to the BJP and this crossover was largely motivated by concerns that revolve around their Hindu identity. Going forward, it will be interesting to see the extent to which the Left’s turn towards Hindu sentiments benefits it electorally. But one thing is certain, the Left has more potential to hurt the BJP with its Hindu politics than the Trinamool Congress.