By: Dr. Ratan Bhattacharjee
The people of Bengal gave their reply to Prime Minister Narendra Modi, who teased the female Chief Minister of Bengal in every election campaign by using the innuendo ‘Didi, O Didi’. No lotus is to bloom as long as Didi is here loved as the ‘daughter of Bengal’. More reasons are there to ponder how this Mamata magic worked so well in spite of the anti-incumbency wave against TMC government. In Kerala too anti-incumbency did not work and LDF came back for the second time and in Assam, BJP too had its victory. Gone are those days when we explain the defeat of a ruling party in the name of anti-incumbency. People now are more conscious and they judge many other factors. In West Bengal people could not depend for their security on BJP. Let us see the main reasons behind the defeat of all the desperate plans of BJP to make the lotus bloom here on the soil of Bengal.
The first reason that catches attention is that this election victory was not always to be explained as the positive votes for Mamata Banerjee whose party people were not all honest and the charges of corruption raised by many against them were not always baseless. But still, people gave their votes in favour of the slogan ‘NO Vote to BJP’ which came back as ‘All vote to TMC’. At the first place, everyone knows that BJP had no face for anyone to be the Chief Minister. Or better to say, BJP had many faces who wanted to be the Chief Minister. This was one of the many reasons behind the failure of the BJP to gain the confidence of the people. As on the national front, the same problem prevails. The opposition could not field a strong person for the next Prime Minister and BJP with a little more than 35% votes have been winning a majority in the Lok Sabha elections. BJP had a similar problem in Bengal which had got always a strong Chief Minister from Bidhan Roy, Siddharth Sankar Roy, Jyoti Basu to Mamata Banerjee. So people could not regard BJP as dependable to form the next government in Bengal.
The next reason was the unprecedented verbal missiles that the Home Minister and Prime Minister hurled against her coming to West Bengal almost like a daily passengers. The decision of the Election Commission to conduct the election in Bengal in eight phases showed that it did not trust the people of the state as a whole. It only supported the theory ‘Either you are BJP or you are a criminal’. In the face of all these, did on behalf of TMC campaigned in favour of all-round development for children, women, and old men. The young students did not find anything positive for them in the BJP manifesto. On the other hand, BJP was busy focusing on Citizenship issue, communal polarization and deployment of Central forces. Their leaders tried to communicate in Hindi at the village level and no booth committee was formed to do the groundwork for election as it is done round the year in West Bengal. RSS could not do the grassroots mobilsation. What is worse, the BJP leaders including the Prime Minister himself indirectly used foul and indecent language against women and minorities by using innuendo against Mamata Banerjee herself personally like ‘Didi O Didi’, ‘Wear Bermuda (when she was wounded enough to use a wheelchair). The other factor was the number of betrayals by many members of the Trinamool Party and Ministry. The people in Bengal never supported Mirjafars and most of them were defeated miserably in this election. Women did not accept the price hike of cooking gas and humiliation of a female Chief Minister who has chequered political career. Once more it is clear that communal polarization is very difficult on Bengal soil because the Bengali culture always supports inclusive culture. The ‘Outsider’ theory of BJP comes back as boomerang and Bengal has accepted ‘the daughter of their state’, not the outsider. People did not accept the hate politics of BJP in Bengal. The only agenda of the BJP to saffronise Bengal, backfired and even the individual left accepted ‘No vote to BJP’ and in spite of the victory of LDF in Kerala in Bengal ‘Bam’ (LEFT ) votes went to drive out Ram. So, CPI(M) went duck in the election along with ISF and Congress. It is noticeable that the Congress stronghold Murshidabad and Malda, fully changed to Trinamool Congress and not a single seat had gone to BJP.
People did not like personal vilification of the image of a woman Chief Minister who with her plastered leg in a wheelchair promised development and harmony of the communities and even on a national level she would raise fight against the divisive policies of BJP which depended on the communal polarization in each of their announcement and promise especially the Citizenship Bill which made the people scared of losing their national identity, even the Hindus. Incompetence, sectarianism and the cult of personality – are the three main defining traits of Modi’s regime. The way the Modi government dealt with the Covid issue came to the limelight after the verdicts given by Madras and Delhi High Court regarding the role played by the Modi government in controlling the epidemic. If it came a little earlier, BJP might have got zero in West Bengal and would have cut a sadder figure in other states including Assam. The major setback occurred in the hike of cooking gas but more so in the humiliation of women. Even the ‘Siya Ram’ slogan is changed because Siya is to be pronounced before Ram, and the BJP supporters shouted only ‘Jay Sri Ram’ which angered the women of Bengal. Outwardly these issues are minor. But they had a deeper psychological impact on the mind of women. They were dissatisfied with the disregard for Sita by the BJP supporters in the change of the slogan and removing Sita’s name. This played havoc in the mind of the women when the Home Minister and Prime Minister himself personally attacked ‘the daughter of Bengal’ in indecent language taunting her even when she was moving in a wheelchair from one meeting to the other meeting. India is a country of female deities and no humiliation of a female in any form of campaign will be accepted. Even an election campaign is no exception. So BJP campaign backfired in maligning Mamata Banerjee. It had adverse effects and women felt more and more sympathy for her. The hat–trick for Trinamool is the reply of the people to BJP. One great issue now that is emerging is the possibility of the emergence of Mamata Banerjee as the universally accepted face of Opposition on the national level to fight the communal and divisive policies of the BJP party and the religious polarization by the Modi government in its plans and bills to be passed in the Parliament taking advantage of the majority. So the victory of Mamata Banerjee in the election of West Bengal was actually her personal victory against Amit Shah and Modi on the issue of ‘inclusive culture of India’ which people of Bengal always love to uphold overall petty issues of daily life. From this point of view, one can remember what Gokhale told ‘What Bengal thinks today, India thinks tomorrow’. (The writer is a Senior Academician and Trilingual columnist cum poet. He may be reached at [email protected])