Shah’s Shahi Rally To Oust Mamata Banerjee
Didi herself excels in street protests but Shah has shown that he has management skills to counter her streetwise politics of rancour that occasionally leads to violence. Reports are that TMC cadres in rural areas were often violent or aggressive against BJP workers. Retaliations have now, it is said, forced the TMC workers to declare peace
Amit Shah is nudging Mamata Bannerjee to move out and let his party BJP come in. He has chosen the right time to launch the oust Mamata operation. Not only his portly size but the Saradha Chit Fund case in which six of her ministers are being investigated and the Burdwan blast inquiry which is blocked by her government are proving too heavy for Didi.
Fortune favours the brave. A victor thirsts for more victories. The Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP), after wresting Maharashtra and Haryana from the Congress and very optimistic about Jharkhand, J&K and Bihar, has drawn up plans to rid West Bengal of Mamata Banerjee’s Trinamool Congress.
The party has apparently lost no time in starting its campaign in the State. A massive membership drive is already going on with a rather ambitious target of 50 lakh members.
The campaign for capturing power was started by the BJP president Amit Shah just a few days ago. He fired the first salvo at his maiden rally in Kolkata at a venue (see box) at the crossing of CR Avenue and Esplanade which proved so auspicious for Mamata Didi that she used all ploys to prevent BJP from starting its campaign from the same venue. But ultimately the High Court over-ruled government’s bans and allowed BJP to hold its rally but it laid down a number of conditions which the party had to comply with. Possibly irked at tactics of the TMC government, Shah was aggressive, pugnacious and brusque in his verbal assaults on Didi. He warned Mamata Banarjee bluntly that he had come to rid the state of her corrupt Trinamool Congress (TMC) government.
In fact for the first time, Didi has found a match in Shah. He uses hardliners language, does not hesitate to tell people off, he can be unequivocally short with people he does not like, but with all fire within him he has incomparably amazing ability to organize marches or poll campaigns. His genius in poll management led the BJP winning 71 of 80 seats in Uttar Pradesh, a cauldron of Indian politics.
Didi herself excels in street protests but Shah has shown that he has management skills to counter her streetwise politics of rancour that occasionally leads to violence. Reports are that TMC cadre in rural areas were often violent or aggressive against BJP workers. Retaliations have now, it is said, forced the TMC workers to declare peace.
At the rally, Shah outlined his time-tested strategy of first aiming for controlling Kolkata Municipal Corporation (KMC), the election for which is slated for May 2015 and then go for the juggler—oust Mamata Banerjee from Writers’ Building.
He said signal of the beginning of the end of the “corrupt” Trinamool regime in Bengal would begin with the defeat of TMC in the Corporation election. He punched back at her ‘jibe” in Delhi last month, ‘who is Amit Shah’? Miss Banerjee had asked, “Who is Amit Shah?” when the media sought her reaction to the rally in the city to be addressed by Mr Shah.”Didi, if you have ears to hear and eyes to see, please hear and see I am Amit Shah, here, a very small activist of the BJP. I have come to Bengal to uproot the corrupt TMC regime from the state.”
Mein Bharatiya Janata Party ka ek chhota karyakarta hoon. Aur mein aapko batana chahta hoon ke Bengal se Trinamool ko ukhar ne ke liye aaya hoon.” It was a massive rally—-BJP claimed two lakh people, police estimated one lakh—and Shah used pun and punches to deliver as many blows on the TMC as it was possible in his 35 minutes speech— during which he took a three-minute pause because of prayers from a nearby shrine . If Didi is worried it is not without reason.
Seeing the crowd being receptive and in fact cheering whenever the TMC government was criticised and also whenever he mentioned in detail the Burdwan blast case and Saradha chit fund investigations, he appealed to the people of Kolkata and Bengal to oust Trinamool Congress first from the KMC and then from the state. Shah also warned Mamata, rather sarcastically, not to play the communal card to secure power.
He launched a searing attack on Mamata, highlighting Trinamool’s alleged involvement in the Saradha scam and the Burdwan blast. “ The NIA is probing the Burdwan blast and it is emerging that TMC people had links with it. There is evidence that Saradha money had a role in the blast. The two probes seem to be converging, said Shah.
Other BJP state leaders were still more belligerent. One alleged that Trinamool was hand in glove with Bangladeshi terrorists as a corollary to Shah’s snide remark, “Didi, you must remember you are the chief minister of Bengal and not of Bangladesh” adding that she had “unnecessarily” made attempts to stop NIA investigation into the 2 October Khagragarh bomb blast. “But the NIA investigation will continue as national security is at stake,” he said. He regretted that Miss Banerjee who had once backed the poor people and had gone on a fast to support their cause was now organising movements to “protect those who have cheated 17 lakh people.” “Does the chief minister feel for those 17 lakh poor people who have been cheated by the Saradha scam?” he asked. “Can Didi say those who have been arrested by the CBI in connection with the case are innocent?” Shah further asked.
He said Bengal had no dearth of “intelligent and industrious” people, yet the state was lagging behind because of Miss Banerjee who was against all development projects like the Clean Ganga plan or Jan Dhan Yojna. “The condition of the state turns from bad to worse every day and this will continue as long as Mamata is in power. The audience cheered him on. This is a clear indication that all is not well for Mamata. Analysts said the opposition might have raised the profile of the event but Mamata could have been more interested in consolidating her minority base. But a very clever Shah covered that angle well and counter Mamata’s charge of attempts to polarise voters along communal lines—he let a minority leader be the first speaker and he later offered help to “martyrs’ families” belonging to the minority community.”
“Sections of the minorities in some parts have switched to the BJP, which is a cause for concern for Mamata,” said another political scientist. The Shah rally may not be compared with Mamata’s July 21 show in 2010 but there is little doubt that the battle for Bengal has become bipolar—between Trinamool and the BJP.
Sidharth Nath Singh BJP’s Bengal minder was sarcastic. He said Mamata Banerjee came to power riding three Ms—Maa, mati and manush. But 3M’s meaning got changed to Madan- Mukul- Mamata. The 3M has become BMB in 2014, which means bhag, Madan, bhag . In 2015, it will become bhag, Mukul, bhag . In 2016, it will become bhag … ( Singh paused, waiting for the audience to respond). And they shouted Mamata, Mamata.
Mamata ministers and party leaders tried to counter the charges made at the Rally. “The whole world knows about Mamata Banerjee’s honesty, while people interrogated by the CBI for rioting in the past are questioning her integrity. She does paint, but she doesn’t sell her own paintings,’ said one of her supporters. Terming the CBI and NIA “political allies’ of the BJP, state minister Subrata Mukherjee said: “The two agencies are helping the BJP maintain its supremacy. We have heard the names of Mr Modi and Mr Shah figure in a red diary recovered from the Sahara chief. What action has been taken against them?” These are lost like a speech in the Tammany Hall. The huge successful public rally in Kolkata would, instead worry the already beleaguered Mamata Didi and the Trinamool Congress government, she heads in the state. The turn-out exposed the simmering discontent of the people with her and her government.
Coming as it did in the wake of the Saradha chit fund scam in which many senior Trinamool Congress leaders find themselves in the dock and the Burdwan blasts where the role of the ruling party in blocking probes by the National Investigation Agency has come under the scanner, the two issues offered just the perfect setting for Mr Shah to launch his offensive of a ‘Mamata-mukt Bengal’, said the edit in the Times of India. Really perceptive of the ground reality in the state. She might not be that apprehensive but she could be very shaken. She must have been content that after decimating both the Left and the Congress in the State, she could never be ousted—politically invincible. She could not have even in her nightmare see that the BJP, which had virtually no presence in West Bengal, could suddenly become a rival. But no one then foreseen Modi’s popularity or Shah’s organisational acumen.
Her feeling of invincibility could have her believe that Saradha or Burdwan episodes would not trouble her. The Press which started to publish anti-stories and pointing to her regime’s failures, was nonchalantly ignored. As TOI edit said “Ms Banerjee and her regime have become as impervious and arrogant as the Left Front had been during its three-decade uninterrupted rule. There is every chance that Mr Shah’s December 1 rally could become a game-changer in the State. For all practical purposes, the BJP, despite not having the numbers yet in the State Assembly, has become the de facto principal opposition to the ruling Trinamool Congress. The Left is yet to recoup from its defeat and the Congress has begun to sing the Mamata tune.”
The fact is that the hitherto sanguine Didi is worried and rattled. How she will tackle the sudden rise of BJP? The best summing up was done by one who commented, “The more she feels threatened, the more she becomes shrill and more she become shrill, the more she will lose support.”
By Vijay Dutt
Amit Shah Follows Didi’s Footsteps To Oust Her…
The legal battle and acrimonious exchange of words between the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) and Trinamool Congress spokespersons over the venue was because the site has high emotive value for Mamata Banerjee. For her it was all about the politics of symbolism, but the BJP leadership also showed love for symbolism and wanted to start its “Move-over Mamata” operation from the venue Didi began her fight to wrest power from the CPM.
She succeeded. So the venue was not only symbolically important but also because it was considered as an auspicious place to launch one’s battle. This is why the BJP was so determined to hold the event at the spot and why the Trinamool frantically used all weapons available to it to guard the venue exclusively for its annual martyrs’ day programme on 21 July every year. The political observers recalled that it was from this venue that Didi had made her clarion call for “sounding the death knell” for the Marxist regime for years since 13 Youth Congress supporters had fallen to police bullets during a Writers’ Buildings blockade in 1993 under her leadership as Youth Congress president. She kept holding the programme like an annual ritual till the Left Front-government was overthrown in 2011.
The martyrs’ day programme in 2011 was held at Brigade Parade Ground to “coincide” it with the “historic” electoral victory. Such symbolism was repeated in 2013 and 2014. Until now Trinamool Congress believed that it alone had the exclusive claim to this venue. Its Government refused to grant permission to the Left Front to organise a rally there. Amit Shah seemed determined to start his battle against Mamata by snatching the auspicious venue, and thus make Mamata psychologically apprehensive. Thus the politics of symbolism was grabbed from the Trinamool. It was like tit-for-tat and pay it back in its own coin.
The political graph of the BJP is presently climbing up and its popularity in Bengal is spreading even into sections of the minority community. At the same time the TMC’s credibility and popularity are waning rapidly because of of scams, collapse of law and order and worst the discovery of terror networks thriving in the state. So one knows now why BJP fought the legal battle so fiercely, to emerge victorious. BJP’s state leadership also twisted the Trinamul’s poll-winning slogan of “Ma-Mati-Manush” to an acerbic and sarcastic cry— Madan-Mukul-Mamata” which refers to allegations of their benefiting from the Saradha chit fund scam.
Shah and other state leaders took another of the Trinamool’s symbolism, by fixing the Kolkata Municipal Corporation poll next year as the stepping stone for capturing power in Bengal. The Trinamool had set a similar target at the height of the Nandigram-Singur turmoil. Mamata had declared the target of capturing the “red building” on SN Banerjee Road (KMC headquarters) in 2010 as the “semi-final” and that of the other “red building”—Writers’ Building—in 2011 as the “final”. Amit Shah has succeeded in usurping Mamata’s auspicious venue to declare war to wrest power from her. And like her he has also targeted of winning in the KMC poll next year. And then he would set his eyes on Writers’ Building. Ironic, following her footsteps Shah wants to take over Didi’s chamber. (VD)