Prime Minister Modi addressed a massive crowd on Sunday at the historic Brigade Parade Ground in Kolkata. It was easily the biggest BJP rally in the state with an astonishing gathering to hear the Prime Minister speak. What was evident from the scenes is that, it was not merely a political rally. It is a revolution. And riding the wave is the BJP and Narendra Modi himself.
Narendra Modi made expected jibes at Trinamool Congress and the Left Front but his words made it clear that the BJP’s vision of ‘Poriborton’ is vastly different from the cry of ‘Poriborton’ Mamata Banerjee had given voice to during the campaign for the 2011 Assembly Elections in the state.
When BJP says ‘Poriborton’, it does not merely mean its intention to change the ruling dispensation. The party means that they will change the political culture of the state itself. Therefore, a major focus of Prime Minister Modi’s speech revolved around ‘Aashol Poriborton’. What it means for the future of Bengal only the future could ever tell for certain. But what is clear is that, should the BJP manage to win this year, West Bengal must be prepared for radical change.
Narendra Modi began his speech at Brigade Parade Ground hailing Bengal’s role in the independence of the country and the million sacrifices the state has made towards India’s freedom. He lauded the heroes the soil of Bengal has produced over the centuries.
“Bengal has illuminated our Sanskriti. Bengal has breathed life into the Indian independence movement. Bengal has made India proud through its contributions in the field of science and knowledge,” the Prime Minister said.
The Prime Minister hailed Kolkata as a source of immense inspiration for the whole country. He vowed to protect the culture of West Bengal and herald the rebirth of the state. The message from the podium was clear. The BJP will make the years to come an era of Bengal resurgence if voted to power.
Shyama Prasad Mukherjee smiles from above
One of the stalwarts of Bengal who has been largely ignored by all political parties in the state is Shyama Prasad Mukherjee. A Hindutva ideologue, he was relegated to the dustbins of history by the Congress party, the Left Front and also, the Trinamool Congress.
The BJP seeks to rectify that. Narendra Modi, while lauding the heroes Bengal has produced over the years, also made sure that Shyama Prasad Mukherjee finds his mention. The Prime Minister mentioned Swami Vivekananda, Shri Aurobindo, Netaji Subhash Chandra Bose but most significantly, he mentioned the Bengali stalwart who has been sidelined by the rest of the political parties.
The mention is significant because it is the clearest indication of the cultural shift the BJP has ushered in since the Saffron Surge in the state. Shyama Prasad Mukherjee ensured that West Bengal remained in India and for that, he deserves due credit. Since other political parties refused to do so branding him “communal”, it has fallen upon the Bharatiya Janata Party, the ideological successor of the party founded by the stalwart, to carry forward his legacy.
‘We will return what Bengal has lost’
There is a great sense of loss that every Bengali feels. West Bengal was great once upon a time. Bengal has produced some of the greatest heroes India has ever seen and helped shape the destiny of not only the Indian subcontinent but the world at large.
But it cannot be denied that since independence, Bengal has fallen from its perch. Bengal has watched silently as other states jumped forward in leaps and bounds. Where Bengal was once at the forefront of realizing the Indian dream, it has now been reduced to petty politics and self-destructive activism.
Narendra Modi promises to change that. He promised at Brigade Parade Ground, ‘We will return what Bengal has lost’. The message will clearly find great resonance with voters in Bengal who do feel great resentment at the manner in which numerous political parties have played with the state.
The message is likely to find much greater resonance among Bengal voters than the ‘Bohiragoto’ narrative Mamata Banerjee has attempted to pursue. Linguistic chauvinism and regional chauvinism is unlikely to find credence with voters because it is an element that is completely alien to Bengal politics.
What ‘Aashol Poriborton’ means
Prime Minister Modi emphasised that their goal is not merely to change the government in Bengal, it’s plan is much more ambitious than that. He said that West Bengal should remember how they were conned by different political parties time and again.
First, it was the Congress party after independence, then came the Left Front and to replace them came Trinamool Congress. But together, they have merely presided over a concerted decline of Bengal over the years.
The remedy to that, Narendra Modi proposes, is development. Jobs for its youth, eradication of corruption and focused governance is the path forward for the state over the next 25 years, a period he said is extremely important for the future of West Bengal.
Jobs, no more injustice, Sonar Bangla is the BJP’s credo going into the elections. And in the hallowed pantheons of Bengal’s heroes, Shyama Prasad Mukherjee will be given his due credit.