It’s an early winter for TMC in Bengal
It’s an early winter in Kolkata. Kolkatans relish the winter but very much susceptible towards the cold. If it’s 10 degree Celsius then the traditional Bengalis must treat it with heaviest warm clothing, including inners, and all woolen pullovers or Kasmiri coats and jackets including a Bengali special monkey cap plus muffler. Anyone belonged to North India would just sweat out with these clothing in 10 degree. But it’s the typical Bengal gharana of thinking that thanda lege jaabe, i.e., you would be caught in cold and become sick. And it’s symbolic in the present political discourse. And this cold allergy is affecting the ruling party TMC specially.
Comrade Lenin once commented : “Calcutta (the earlier name of Kolkata) will be liberated last.” His forecast was, the Socialist Revolution would be completed and its last post would be Bengal Capital. But history has changed the course and the politics its orbit. The wheel of transformation or the parivartan chakra has shown the receding trend. The wheel of social transformation is going back towards the origin. According to the revivalist theoreticians, this wheel has reformed itself gradually and become the Sudarshan chakra. So it’s the time for another change after 10 years. Now they claim, it is the” baari” of Hindutwa. It’s an old slogan of late nineties at the Centre. “Ab ki baari Atal Behari.” But the last word is missing in Bengal. No face is found out. So, there is still a gap between the cup and the lip. And also Bengalis are very particular about the question of the flavour of pure Darjeeling tea. Nowhere in India can one have the same taste and flavour of tea as that in Kolkata. So, when Bengal is becoming the better land for BJP, the CM has used one of the Brahmastras kept in her arrow-box. That is “outsider”.
Trinamool has jumped on the electoral turf war by marking the BJP central leaders as “outsiders”. The background is not at all palatable for her party. 18 Lok Sabha seats were won by BJP in 2019. It’s like a pole vault jump for the BJP. They were just 2 in the 2014 election. The election of historical victory for the BJP. In spite of this fact, the BJP got only 2 seats in Bengal. Generally, the Lok Sabha votes go with the Vidhansabha results. Only exception was the general election of 1984, after the demise of Indira Gandhi. On that occasion, Congress got 16 Lok Sabha seats, in spite of the sympathy wave in favour of Congress. But in that election also, the ruling state party CPM lost 16 seats, two less than what BJP won in 2019. So, it’s a heavy loss to and a stern warning for TMC.
After that, the leadership started taking active steps to combat the challenger BJP. One after another programme were initiated by the party and the government, as recommended by the election consultant IPAC, run by Prashant Kishor. And this Kishor has become the virtual party organisation. Every leader right from top to grassroots are at the beck and call of the consultant, as he has been given the sole authority to bring up the best harvest out for the 2021 Assembly Elections. Also this this has become the life and death question for both the incumbent TMC and the main challenger BJP. TMC is fighting for its existence, which is threatened by almost a sort of exodus from the Ma, ati, Manush to the Hindutva plank. This has been happening for two years or more–starting from Mukul Roy, the original second in command of Mamata brigade, until the latest Suvendu Adhikari, the popular second in command of TMC. He is known to be the most powerful mass leader of TMC after Mamata Banerjee.
After this happened, the Union Home Minister and the supreme commander of Bengal battalion of BJP Amit Shah openly reiterated his earlier claim that the party would cross 200 mark in the ensuing election in the house of 294 seats. Earlier this claim bbore no weight. But after the exodus has been really meaningful, the TMC leadership is seriously feeling the pinch. And the crowd gatherings in the public meetings of the “renegades”, as abused by their erstwhile party, are huge. Nobody could think even few months back that such meetings could be organised without the presence and blessings of Didi. So, the fall seems to be felt from within. And the detractors claim, any day the super structure of the ruling party would come down like a pack of cards. Although the leadership is in the war mode to prove that Mamata is the party. Men may come and men may go, but Didi is the only constant factor in the party. And Prashant Kishor, by virtue of his delegated power, is giving the rebuff and reply to Shah, saying, let the BJP cross double digits. Forget about 200 . It’s far away. Three digits are even mirage for them. Even, Kishor has given a challenge to Amit Shah, saying, if his words come to truth then in future he would not do this forecast anymore. He would leave this job.
But the main point causing anxiety for the leadership of TMC is the issue of communalisation of Bengal polity. This issue the BJP has been raising against Mamata Banerjee’s party since 2014. After the advent of serious threat of losing power, the TMC started describing BJP as the burner of majority communalism. Given this contradiction of allegations on minority and majority communalism, the BJP is becoming the political beneficiary day by day. Now it is to be seen whether and how much the benefit is translated electorally. But sensing the threat and deactivate the polarisation, which as an issue can devastate even the Great Bengal Renaissance heritage and oblige the BJP claim, the TMC has pushed the “outsider” issue, which is very much there like a fire under ashes among the Bengali middle class masses. Their broken dreams, broken families and broken heritage have put forward a grim future. Here certain characters are easily projected as the barriers towards their imancipation. Narendra Modi has, of course, rightly retorted that Syama Prasad Mookerjee being guru, how could the disciples be outsiders? But it’s a bit late to project the son of great tiger of Bengal Sir Ashutosh Mukhopadhyay as the mentor of BJP. From the earlier days onwards, the state BJP’s interst has been sacrificed for the advantage of the friendly party, which happened to be TMC. Then Tapan Sikdar had to urge LK Advani to save the party with a popular Bengal leader, very much related to the Syama Prasad Mookerjee heritage. And then it was the ground work of Atalji in Bengal. One or two old guards are still there but in oblivion. So, it has to be seen whether the same heritage link of the party could be rejuvenated or not.
By Debarun Ray