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14 December, 2018 00:00 00 AM
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Lotus may not bloom in the next general elections in West Bengal

Since the dramatic victory of Modi in the 2014 Lok Sabha, the people of India have seen that the BJP-led regime has displayed an array of methods in several Assembly elections for gaining one thing – power
Manisha Chakraborty
Lotus may not bloom in the next general elections in West Bengal

Recently the “Desh ka Mood” survey by ABP News and C-Voter predicted that the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP)-led National Democratic Alliance will get 276 seats in the 2019 general elections. The majority mark in the Lok Sabha (Lower House) is 272. So, according to the survey, Prime Minister Narendra Modi will return for a second term in 2019. Quite expectedly, the survey is welcomed by the BJP and its supporters while its arch -rival Congress and other opposition parties rubbished it.  But the survey triggered a nationwide question: Does Modi deserve a second term in the light of his Hindutva political narrative and his government’s shortcomings in four years?

It is an undeniable fact that the BJP has been losing its popularity with each passing day, after suffering repeated defeats in recent by-polls (in parliamentary constituencies) in politically big states like Uttar Pradesh, Maharashtra, West Bengal, Rajasthan and Bihar. Since the dramatic victory of Modi in the 2014 Lok Sabha, the people of India have seen that the BJP-led regime has displayed an array of methods in several Assembly elections for gaining  one thing – power.

The Karnataka Assembly election is a “voter-delivered slap” on BJP. It has proved that if the scattered opposition parties can come together, the saffron juggernaut can be stopped. As such, the upcoming assembly elections of five states – Mizoram, Chhattisgarh, Madhya Pradesh, Rajasthan and Telangana are going to be a “prelude” to the 2019 general elections for both the BJP and opposition parties. The BJP president Amit Shah asserted that BJP's return to power in 2019 is "not a challenge but a certainty" but he and Modi should keep in mind the three Lok Sabha by-election results held on November 3, 2018 in Karnataka in which the ruling Congress-JD(S) alliance won 2 Lok Sabha seats and 2 Assembly seats. Surely, the results indicate that the people of the country are tired of the Modi government's hollow promises of bringing good days. Now people have been asking “Acche din kab ayenge” (when will good days come)? As per the words of CPI (M) general secretary Sitaram Yechury, the slogan “sabka saath, sabka vikas” (development for all) has turned out to be “hollow”.

Realizing that the BJP would not perform well in western and north India, now the top saffron leaders have started to look the eastern region, which includes 42 seats in West Bengal, 14 in Jharkhand, 40 in Bihar, 21 in Odisha and 26 in the Northeast.  Although the BJP had bagged just two seats in the 2014 Lok Sabha elections (Darjeeling and Asansol) and two in the 2016 Legislative Assembly elections in West Bengal, Amit Shah has said that the saffron party will win as many as 22 Lok Sabha seats in West Bengal which is known for a secular political culture. But he should remember the fact that the Gorkha Janmukti Morcha (GJM) under the leadership of Binay Tamang has made its peace with Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee. During the 2018 panchayat elections, the ruling Trinamool Congress (TMC) virtually swept the BJP in Asansol area. It’s now pretty certain that the TMC is going to win all 42 Lok Sabha seats.

Several BJP leaders, including Amit Shah, Bengal BJP chief Dilip Ghosh, national secretary Rahul Sinha are now trying to disturb the people of Bengal by creating communal tension. It is worth noting that on a two-day visit from June 28-29 to Bengal to check the preparedness for the upcoming Parliamentary Election 2019, Shah told a rally in Birbhum district that if the people of Bengal “want to stop illegal immigration from Bangladesh”, then they have to dethrone TMC  government. Clearly, his aim is to attract the Bengali Hindu vote bank which is around 60%. It seems that the BJP leaders are aggressively pursuing the Hindutva narrative but the people of Bengal do not like such type of Hindutva politics. The BJP's top leadership should realize that Bengal's voters do not care about “Ram Temple – Babri mosque” culture. The two communities- Hindu and Muslim believe in the concept of brotherhood and live in peaceful togetherness in Bengal. “Mora eki brinte duti kusum Hindu-Musalmaan/Muslim taar nayan-mani Hindu tahar praan”( We are two flowers from the same stalk Hindu-Musalmaan/ Muslim is its sparkle of eyes, Hindu is its life)

Mamata Banerjee rightly noted, “We don't support militant Hinduism." Left Front legislature party leader Sujan Chakraborty termed the BJP "anti-poor and anti-Bengali". Even Bengal BJP Vice President and Netaji Subhas Chandra Bose's grandnephew Chandra Kumar Bose told the Huffpost in an interview on November 12,2018: “There is a disconnect between BJP and Bengal’s voters. The Party is doing wrong in West Bengal.” Over the past few years, the Bengal BJP unit along with other saffron outfits has been trying to use the Ram Navami celebrations to gain political ground. But the people of Bengal do not accept this culture of weaponised Ram Navami marches for political gains. The BJP's pro-Hindutva narrative will surely have an adverse impact on BJP's election prospects in Bengal.

However, although the BJP has emerged as the principal opposition in the Noapara assembly and Uluberia Lok Sabha seats in January, the panchayat elections and the Maheshtala assembly bypoll in May at the cost of the Left and the Congress, it is extremely challenging for the Modi-Shah team to conquer the Bengal’s voters. It should be noted here that 27% Muslim voters in the state never support the BJP in the light of post-Babri Masjid demolition and 2002 Godhra riots. More importantly, the Bengal BJP unit does not have a leader to match Ms. Banerjee who has become a symbol of communal harmony and development with her “Robin Hood” image working for the people of Bengal.

Furthermore, the TMC supremo is positioning herself as a potential Prime Ministerial candidate of the anti- BJP alliance for the 2019 General Elections. She has stepped up her efforts to unite the anti-BJP Opposition. The Congress has already declared that it is open to “pragmatic alliances” to defeat the BJP at the Centre. Some leaders within the Bengal unit of the Congress are strongly advocating Congress-TMC alliance to stop the onward march of BJP in West Bengal. During her visit to New Delhi in the first week of August, Ms. Banerjee met with the leaders of various parties including United Progressive Alliance chairperson Sonia Gandhi, Congress President Rahul Gandhi, Delhi Chief Minister Arvind Kejriwal, Rajya Sabha MP Sanjay Raut and Shiv Sena chief Uddhav Thackeray. She invited them to attend a grand opposition rally on 19 January, 2019, in Kolkata. The rally will sound bugle for 2019 elections against Modi and BJP. It is an undeniable fact that the people of India are fed up with various issues like rising fuel prices, bank fraud, lynching on the minority communities and the Rafale controversy.

The Modi government's economic initiatives like demonetization, GST failed to yield the desired results at the grassroot level.  On November 22, 2013 at an election rally in Agra, Modi ji committed to generate 10 million jobs a year, but in actuality, the total number of jobs created in the first three years of Modi government is just 1.51 million, a 39% lower rate than during the previous government’s tenure. Common Indian people really want “good days” as promised by the current Indian government led by Modiji.

The writer is an Indian freelancer writing exclusively for

The Independent

 

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Editor : M. Shamsur Rahman
Published by the Editor on behalf of Independent Publications Limited at Media Printers, 446/H, Tejgaon I/A, Dhaka-1215.
Editorial, News & Commercial Offices : Beximco Media Complex, 149-150 Tejgaon I/A, Dhaka-1208, Bangladesh. GPO Box No. 934, Dhaka-1000.

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