The Bengal elections are probably the most hotly contested Assembly Elections in recent times. On the one hand, we have the defender and reigning champion – Mamata Banerjee and on the other, we have the formiddable popularity of PM Modi, Amit Shah, the BJP’s organisational strength and a wave in the favour of Hindutva.
Mamata Banerjee has been jittery for a while about losing power in these elections. The fear, the sheer fear was evident much before the elections were even announced. Mamata getting irked at the innocent chants of Jai Shree Ram, her unbridled Muslim appeasement, her using the state machinery to persecute those who do not agree with her and her terribly bitter rants against PM Modi coupled with her silence over the riots in Bengal were all an indication.
But regardless of her several drawbacks, Mamata Banerjee has always been a fighter. A woman who stood tall to fight for what she believed was hers. But something changed this election cycle. From a fierce fighter, she turned into a victim that needed to be protected. Why did that happen? Did she lose her fire or was it a strategy?
Prashant Kishor, Mamata Banerjee’s election strategist this election cycle has the answer for us.
Election strategist Prashant Kishor has revealed that there was a strategic reason behind changing Mamata Banerjee’s image from ‘Didi’ to ‘Beti’. Speaking in the Idea Exchange event by the Indian Express, Kishor said that when someone is referred to as ‘didi’, people tend to look for a ‘provider’ or the ‘protector’ in that person.
People believed “she is the almighty, she will take care of everything… so they were being defensive”. I have projected her as the ‘beti’. “you need to stand with her..she is under attack, and hence the slogan “Bangla nijer meye-kei chaye” (Bengal wants its daughter)”, said the election strategist.
To counter the resurgent BJP in West Bengal, the incumbent Trinamool Congress party, under the guidance of poll strategist Prashant Kishor, seems to have changed its poll strategy, repositioning the state’s ‘Didi’ (elder sister) to the ‘Meye/beti’ (daughter) of the state. The Trinamool Congress recently launched a new election slogan in West Bengal: “Bangla nijer meye-kei chaye”, literally meaning: Bengal wants its own daughter.
And with that, the shift in the narrative becomes clear. The fighter ‘didi’ became the daughter that Bengal needs to be protected from ‘outsiders’. The aim was rather simple – get sympathy and that sympathy would translate to votes. While Mamata has been at the forefront of the most aggressive form of politics marred with violence by her party goons, the strategy of Prashant Kishor to whitewash that image of someone who hardly values the lives of Hindus was to turn her into the victim herself.
The fact that Prashant Kishor’s strategy was to project Mamata as someone who needs to be protected by the people of Bengal, is the evidence of why the Nandigram drama was crafted.
Mamata Banerjee’ Nandigram farce
Last month, Banerjee had alleged that she was attacked by four-five men who pushed her, and banged on the door of her car, causing injuries to her. She had claimed that there were no police personnel around her at the time of the incident, claiming it was part of a planned conspiracy.
She and her party members had claimed that the attack was carried out to keep her out of the election campaign.
Eyewitnesses, however, completely trashed Mamata’s claims of being ‘pushed’ by some people. They claimed that the entire account given by Mamata Banerjee was false and that it was an accident. They also said that she was surrounded by police protection at that moment, denying the claim by the CM that there was no police protection around her at the time of the incident.
Why Prashant Kishor craftily repositioned Mamata Banerjee from ‘didi’ to ‘beti’
Though this farce by Mamata Banerjee was soon busted, the aim of the party was to clearly use the opportunity to project the chief minister as a victim here. It sought to make the voters feel that the ‘daughter of Bengal’ is under threat in her own state. It attempted to evoke the voter’s sympathy for the ‘beti’ of the state.
Basically, when someone is called ‘didi’, it gives off an impression of an elder sibling who’ll look after you, raise you, guide you, protect you and take you forward. But the ‘beti’ identity evokes a completely different feeling and that is exactly what Prashant Kishor has attempted to do.
He seeks to make Bengal voters feel that Mamata Banerjee is the daughter of Bengal, their own daughter, and thus they need to protect her and look after her. Basically, the poll strategist has played TMC’s strongest card- Mamata Banerjee and craftily repositioned her from ‘didi’ to ‘beti’, all in a bid to garner the voter’s sympathy in order to win the high-pitched poll battle in West Bengal.