Explained: The Significance Of Amit Shah’s Visit To Bengal And Entry Of Trinamool Leaders Into BJP

by Jaideep Mazumdar - Dec 20, 2020 12:43 PM +05:30 IST
Explained: The Significance Of Amit Shah’s Visit To Bengal And Entry Of Trinamool Leaders Into BJPAmit Shah (Photo by Debajyoti Chakraborty/NurPhoto via Getty Images)
  • On Saturday (19 December), BJP went from being a challenger to the Trinamool to a serious contender for power in West Bengal.

Union Home Minister Amit Shah’s ongoing visit to Bengal could well go down in the state’s political history as a game-changer.

Coming close on the heels of the attack on BJP national president J.P.Nadda’s cavalcade on 10 December, the massive show of strength by Shah at Medinipur on Saturday and the induction of a host of senior Trinamool leaders into the BJP has sent out a few strong messages:

1. The BJP is not going to be cowed down by Trinamool’s attacks, threats and intimidation. In fact, the BJP appears to have resolved to step up its public outreach programmes and organise more roadshows, public meetings and rallies and door-to-door campaigns.

Amit Shah’s aggressive speech on Saturday indicated that the political offensive against Bengal’s ruling party will in fact be intensified.

2. The BJP will take the battle for Bengal to the Trinamool’s camp and hit that party where it hurts most. Saturday’s switchover of one Lok Sabha MP, 10 MLAs (seven from Trinamool, two from the Left and one from Congress), two ex-MPs and 60 Councillors, Zilla Parishad and panchayat samiti members (almost all of them from the Trinamool) is unprecedented in Bengal.

Ever since the Lok Sabha elections last year, BJP leaders have been stating that many from the Trinamool are waiting to switchover, but their assertions were scoffed at. Saturday showed that this was being planned for quite some time now.

3. So many senior and prominent politicians joining the BJP en masse proves that the BJP has become organisationally strong in Bengal. It also proves that the smear campaign against the BJP by Trinamool, the Left and Congress hasn’t succeeded and that joining the BJP is an attractive proposition in West Bengal.

4. Another message is that the Trinamool’s slur against the BJP being a ‘party of outsiders’ has failed to create even an impact. The BJP has, in an apparent snub to the slur, decided to step up the frequency of visits by its leaders from outside the state to Bengal.

The entry of many prominent political leaders into the BJP has proved that they do not consider the saffron party as one of ‘outsiders. And the crowd at Shah’s rally at Medinipur also served as a rebuff to the Trinamool’s attempt to create a ‘Bengali versus outsiders’ divide.

5. The anti-Centre narrative of the Left and then the Trinamool will no longer work in Bengal. The Left and the Trinamool have survived on Delhi-bashing and blaming the Centre for all the ills--caused by their misgovernance-- afflicting Bengal. But Saturday’s events can be a turning point and, as Suvendu Adhikari said, mark the end of this defeatist and self-destructive narrative that has harmed Bengal.

Saturday’s rally may well mark the start of scripting of a new political narrative, of cooperation and collaboration between the Union and state government--something that Bengal has been deprived of since 1977.

6. The BJP will intensify its attacks on Mamata Banerjee and her nephew Abhishek. Suvendu Adhikari’s attack on Abhishek was endorsed by Amit Shah and the message went out that the Trinamool supremo and her nephew will be taken head-on.

7. The entry of senior leaders from the Trinamool has dealt a psychological blow to that party and has demoralised its cadres. Amit Shah’s dire warning that more Trinamool leaders will desert the party and join the BJP has created a sense of fear and foreboding even in the senior ranks of Mamata Banerjee’s party.

It has also sowed seeds of suspicion in the Trinamool: rumours about many leaders and functionaries planning to join the saffron camp are rife and have triggered confusion. A trust deficit has also crept in within the Trinamool with many functionaries and even senior leaders questioning each other’s loyalty to Mamata Banerjee.

8. Saturday’s show of strength and the switchover of so many senior leaders to the BJP also sends out a strong message to the state administration that the chances of a regime change next year are high. Hence, the administration, including the police, would perhaps be loath to act as handmaidens of the Trinamool and blatantly favour the ruling party as has been the norm till now.

BJP state president Dilip Ghosh believes that 19 December (Saturday) will go down in Bengal’s political history as the beginning of the end of Trinamool. While it remains to be seen if his prediction comes true, it is a fact that the day has changed Bengal’s current political discourse, busted fake narratives and marked a turning point in the state’s politics.

9. Saturday has also brought about a pertinent change in public perception about the BJP in Bengal. The popular belief among the masses had so far been that while the BJP will mount a tough challenge to the Trinamool, the latter will manage to come to power again.

The BJP, as per popular belief, would emerge as a very strong opposition and would have to wait another five years to come to power in the state. This perception has now undergone a change and it is widely believed that the BJP may well form the next government in Bengal. Perceptions matter, especially in politics.

Jaideep Mazumdar is an associate editor at Swarajya.

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