Here’s What The BJP Could Have Done, But Shied Away From, To Corner Mamata Banerjee During Her Delhi Trip
The BJP has lost a wonderful opportunity to expose Mamata Banerjee before the nation and puncture her national ambitions.
Trinamool chief Mamata Banerjee returned to Kolkata Friday after a four-day trip to Delhi. She has enough reasons to be happy with her visit.
For one, she received very favourable press and almost all newspapers and TV channels covered her visit, including her engagements with various politicians, very favourably.
She met leaders of many non-BJP parties, including Sonia and Rahul Gandhi, and managed to project herself as a serious bidder for the Prime Minister’s post in 2024. She managed to create a positive buzz around her efforts to cement opposition unity and fight the BJP unitedly in the next Lok Sabha elections.
In short, she achieved almost all of what she had sought. The only upset, albeit a minor one, was her inability to meet Nationalist Congress Party (NCP) chief Sharad Pawar.
Pawar is considered to be the fulcrum of opposition (non-BJP, non-Congress) unity and a politician whose support is deemed to be a prerequisite for any attempt at opposition unity to succeed.
Banerjee could only speak to Pawar over phone. But that small upset aside, the Trinamool chief’s visit went according to script that has, in all probability, been prepared by her political strategist Prashant Kishor.
But it is the BJP which has facilitated the success of Banerjee’s Delhi visit. Through its sheer inaction, the BJP allowed Mamata Banerjee to hog the limelight in Delhi and escape all accountability for the horrific post-poll crimes against BJP karyakartas and supporters in Bengal by her party goons.
The BJP should have raised a din in Delhi about continuing attacks on its workers and supporters in Bengal by Trinamool gangsters.
The BJP should have taken the victims of political violence in Bengal--rape survivors, families of those who have been killed, people who had been attacked and maimed and those whose houses had been looted and ransacked--to Delhi at the time the Trinamool chief was there.
Top party leaders including party national president J P Nadda should have held press meets along with these victims of political violence from Bengal and highlighted their sorry plight.
Senior BJP leaders from Bengal should also have addressed the media to highlight the Trinamool’s misrule and brutal suppression of the opposition in Bengal. State party leaders should have taken these victims of political violence to President Ram Nath Kovind, Prime Minister Modi and Home Minister Amit Shah.
That would have swivelled the media attention away from Mamata Banerjee and severely embarrassed her. She would have been put on the defensive and would have been forced to answer for the atrocities committed (and still being perpetrated) by her party goons.
More than 32 BJP workers have been killed by Trinamool goons since the results of the Assembly polls were announced on May 2. Thousands have been driven out of their houses, which have been looted, and more than 300 attacked and injured. More than two dozen women have been allegedly raped.
The BJP let go of a good opportunity to highlight all this before the nation when Banerjee was seeking the spotlight to project herself as a leader of a national stature.
The BJP could have easily punctured Mamata Banerjee’s bid to gain a national stature by highlighting her lack of governance skills and the sorry state of Bengal.
The BJP should have deployed its economists, including Ashok Lahiri (the newly-elected MLA from Balurghat in North Bengal who was chief economic advisor to Government of India), to hold press meets in Delhi and highlight how Mamata Banerjee has driven the state to economic ruin.
They ought to have told the national media how poorly Bengal fares in various economic indices and how the state faces the grim prospect of falling into a debt trap.
Few outside Bengal are aware of Mamata Banerjee’s dismal track record in governance; her Delhi visit would have been an opportune time to highlight that and thus corner her.
The BJP should also have organised black flag demonstrations to greet Mamata Banerjee in Delhi. BJP MPs should have forcefully raised the continuing attacks on party workers and supporters in Bengal, and the many failings of the Bengal government, in both Houses of Parliament on the days Banerjee was in Delhi.
BJP sources said that many state unit leaders were in favour of such a course of action. But the party’s central leadership felt that it would not be proper to embarrass a visiting chief minister, and more so a lady.
Cornering a visiting chief minister by the ruling party at the centre would amount to impropriety and lack of courtesy, the BJP central leadership reportedly felt.
The BJP central leadership also felt that mounting an attack on the chief of a provincial party in the national capital would amount to granting her too much importance and the oxygen she needs to prove her relevance on the national political stage.
But, as events have proved, she did hog the limelight in Delhi. And what the BJP overlooked is that extending courtesies and exhibiting civility is a two-way street.
The BJP has lost a wonderful opportunity to expose Mamata Banerjee before the nation and, by presenting her true face, puncture her national ambitions. The party may well come to regret its inaction in the years to come.
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