The content creation app, which is for now only available on iPhone, had only recently become the Achilles’ heel for election strategist Prashant Kishor. Kishor had inadvertently admitted while talking to several ‘close’ journalists that TMC’s internal poll was giving a raging majority to the BJP in West Bengal. After realising that the room in which they were talking was open to the public and his conversation was being heard by hundreds, Prashant Kishor changed tunes and began to talk about Mamata’s victory. Perhaps to fire-fight what Prashant Kishor had said, yesterday, Derek O’Brien appeared on Clubhouse for a short interaction with select ‘liberals’.
During the interaction, those present say that Derek O’Brien tried his best to essentially show how TMC was sweeping the state without a shadow of doubt in his mind. However, there were certain statements that point towards the unhinged nervousness that TMC seems to be feeling at the prospect of losing power and BJP winning the state.
Derek O'Brien on Clubhouse yesterday:— वसूली भाई श्री सनीचर 🌈 🚜 ✊🏿 (@Ruchhan) April 16, 2021
1. Removing Modi/Shah main focus, will 'take care' of BJP later
2. EC didnt club phases, but will stop campaigning coz of COVID, that will only help BJP
3. Even if CPIM has killed TMC cadre, it is a better opposition than BJP in WB
Talking to Congress troll Saket Gokhale, Derek O’Brien’s first clinching statement was that TMC was not worried about BJP per se since they could be taken care of later. The focus of TMC and even other opposition parties was to remove Prime Minister Modi and Home Minister Amit Shah, and BJP could be ‘taken care of’ later.
This statement is particularly interesting when one thinks about the implications.
For the longest time, TMC has been claiming that PM Modi and Amit Shah are ‘outsiders’ and are therefore not popular in West Bengal at all. However, this statement gives us a window into just how much PM Modi’s popularity is feared by the TMC that today stares at the prospect of losing power in West Bengal, due to the popularity of PM Modi. In fact, the nation over, while the opposition parties have tried their best to dislodge BJP with falsely created controversies, false allegations of corruption, communal riots, fanning Islamism, separatism, Khalistani separatism and more, PM Modi has remained a wildly popular leader who enjoys unbridled goodwill.
It is perhaps this aspect that worries TMC and Derek O’Brien. PM Modi is an extremely popular leader who enjoys the faith of the masses. What PM Modi being at the helm has also done is increased by leaps and bounds the civilisational awareness in the electorate. And what does the minority appeasing opposition fears the most? A united electorate that is aware of their civilisational values and unashamed to own its Hindu identity. Therefore, it only makes sense that even in the narrow scope of West Bengal, given the Hindutva resurgence in the state and the prospect of BJP winning, Derek O’Brien would say that it is PM Modi and Amit Shah that need to be removed, before BJP.
This statement leads beautifully to the next, shocking statement made by Derek O’Brien. During his interaction, Brien said that even though the Communists (CPIM) has killed many of their party workers, they would be a far better opposition party in West Bengal compared to the BJP. Essentially, for Derek, a party that conducted genocide is far better than one that makes Hindus wake up and own their civilisational identity. Because TMC and CPIM both have a penchant to rule with force and fear and not by the faith of the electorate.
With these two statements, Derek O’Brien managed to establish just how their political psyche works – it does not matter if Hindus stay oppressed, it does not matter if citizens are murdered to ensure that the power remains with these parties, but God forbid a party that actually wins on the basis of goodwill ruins their political power-trip.
And that fear was even more evident with his third statement. Derek O’Brien said that the Election Commission was approached by the TMC, requesting them to club the remaining election phases into one, owing to the second wave of COVID-19. Mamata Banerjee has said that her request is focused on protecting the people from COVID-19.
“Amid an ongoing pandemic, we firmly opposed ECI’s decision to conduct WB polls in 8 phases. Now, in view of the huge surge in COVID-19 cases, I urge the ECI to consider holding the remaining phases in ONE go. This will protect the people from further exposure to COVID-19,” the TMC supremo tweeted.
However, just like Derek O’Brien prefers a party that has murdered the citizens of Bengal, he also does not really mind if COVID-19 claims the lives of the citizens of Bengal, as long as it does not benefit BJP.
During his interaction on Clubhouse, Derek O’Brien said that the EC is most likely to deny this request to hold the remaining phases of elections at the same time, but given that the EC ‘works for Modi’, they might ban physical campaigning and that is something O’Brien does not support. Why, one might ask? Well, Derek O’Brien thinks that if the Election Commission bans physical campaigning, the electoral advantage would go to BJP. According to Brien, BJP is strong on social media and on other digital platforms, and therefore, if physical campaigning is banned due to the spread of COVID-19, it would be EC giving the advantage to BJP.
Essentially, TMC is so worried about the people of Bengal that they want all remaining phases to be clubbed into one, but if EC bans physical campaigning, that would be TMC giving the electoral advantage to BJP. TMC wants the EC to ensure that physical campaigning continues and it does not seem to matter if that leads to the spread of COVID-19, because they believe it helps TMC electorally.
With such statements, it is evident that TMC fears losing power in the state and perhaps, Prashant Kishor was not that far off the mark when he said that TMC’s internal survey showed a victory for BJP.
What Prashant Kishor said on Clubhouse just a few days before the Derek O’Brien interaction
On April 7, audio clips of a Clubhouse conversation between Lutyens journalists and election strategist Prashant Kishor appeared on Twitter. Kishor, working for the ruling TMC, admitted that his internal survey results suggest a comfortable BJP victory in the West Bengal State Legislative polls.
Without realising that the audio conversation on the ClubHouse app is being recorded, Prashant Kishor said, “If BJP is getting votes, then, it is due to the Modi and Hindu factor. Polarisation, Scheduled Castes (SCs), Hindi-speaking people are the other factors. Suvendu Adhikari’s exit or my entry has no bearing on the election results. There are over 1 crore Hindi-speaking people here and 27% SCs. All of them are standing with the BJP.”
While speaking on the voting preferences of the Matua community, Prashant Kishor emphasised, “Matuas will be predominantly voting for the BJP. However, they won’t be unitedly voting for the BJP as they did in the Lok Sabha polls. It will be 75% BJP and 25% TMC.”
Before that, in an interview with the Indian Express, Kishor had said, “Around November-December last year, there was a lot of hype being created around the BJP, that they are going to sweep the state, get 200 seats etc. So, it was important for us to say publicly that this is not true… There is no way that in December the BJP was in a position to be winning 200 seats.”
He had said that he stood by his earlier assessment that BJP can not cross the double-digit mark. “And, in our assessment, they would struggle to enter triple digits, and I stand by that remark. If they do, I will cease to exist as a political aide to anyone. I must quit this space, and quitting this space does not mean Twitter; I won’t do this work ever,” he had announced.