After Mamata Banerjee’s massive loss in the Lok sabha elections, in which she was reduced to 22 seats from her previous 34 in the state of West Bengal, the upcoming state elections have got her all riled up. The TMC leader has realised that her reign of terror is only going to push the people towards BJP which has now emerged as the main opposition and only alternative to Mamata’s tyrant rule. In order to counter BJP’s growing popularity in the state, Mamata Banerjee sought the services of fabled ‘electoral wizard’, Prashant Kishor.
The guy with the supposed ‘Midas touch’, Prashant Kishor came into the picture to completely remake Mamata’s image. Some quick and shrewd thinking on her part led Mamata to come to a decision that the citizens will not bend with fear and the only way to stabilize her position is to rebrand the image.
The major reform of these was to remove the anti-Hindu tag that Mamata has increasingly become associated with. She has been facing a strong anti-incumbency wave in West Bengal due to various reasons like deteriorating law and order situation. Out of all the critical issues, Mamata Banerjee’s pro-radical image and rampant appeasement of minorities have surely played a major part in bringing down TMC’s tally.
Prashant Kishor coming into the picture has been handed a perfect opportunity to rectify TMC’s pro-radical image using soft techniques like these. Known for having a soft corner for the Muslims, her appeasement policies have not gone down well with the people of West Bengal. Citizens have increasingly expressed displeasure at Muslims being allowed to read the namaaz on the roads, whereas when Hindus attempt a recitation of Hunuman Chalisa in a similar manner, they are manhandled by the police. Moreover, images of Mamata reading the namaaz haven’t gone down well the Hindus in the state. This, coupled by the soft approach she adopts towards the illegal Muslim immigrants from Bangladesh, in order to establish a large vote bank, isn’t appreciated by the present Hindu voters.
Kishor has understood this to be the root cause and has delved right into fixing it. For this, Kishor has implemented some new dictates in terms of how TMC and Mamata Banerjee in particular are to conduct themselves in public. The first of these had been the newly inducted TMC MP Nusrat Jahan’s avatar in the oath taking ceremony of the parliament where she was seen sporting a saree and sindoor. She took the oath in the name of ‘Ishwar’ and ended by saying, “Jai Hind, Vande Mataram, Joi Bangla, Thank you.”
Thereafter, Jahan, along with Mamata were also seen attending a Rath Yatra event organized by International Society for Krishna Consciousness (ISKCON). With the nationwide applause what went unnoticed was the overnight change in the stance of TMC.
Not just restricted to the public attire, Prashant Kishor has reportedly also taught the tyrant leader how to interact with the leaders of other parties.
Reportedly, Prashant Kishor has also advised Mamata Banerjee to tone down the attack and rhetoric against PM Modi and Amit Shah, a strategy she now seems to be following.
Due to Kishor’s counsel, Mamata Banerjee has also sought to whitewash the strangest of religious atrocities she had committed on the Hindus. In 2017, she had appointed Minister Firhad Hakim in the board of the Tarakeswar Development Authority (TDA). This was her attempt to exercise administrative control on the temple, and to do this, a Muslim had been appointed. More than the communal issues, Mamata Banerjee had deeply hurt the sentiments of the people, which had strongly critized the move. However, the backlash hadn’t deterred the TMC supremo, which had gone on to be a major election issue in the Lok Sabha.
Now, Kishor has installed some sense into Mamata Banerjee, or at least he’s trying to. Firhad Hakim has been removed from the post and former MP Ratna De Nag has been appointed in his place.
Additionally, Mamata Banerjee has also resorted to making herself more approachable to the people by starting a portal called “Didi ke bol”. This is directly aimed at removing the ‘fearful tyrant’ rule that Mamata has spent over a decade perfecting. Through the portal, the citizens can directly contact the Chief Minister about their problems. Again, the motive seems to be to portray Mamata as a personable, at-your-service sort of leader as opposed to the aloof and vindictive image she has.
All these initiatives of Kishor are aimed at making Mamata Banerjee seem more approachable. Mamata has increasingly become synonymous to being vindictive and belligerent, for reasons arising out of her own actions. Believing that fear is the only thing that will help uphold her power, the democratic environment of the state has suffered. For the first time, after the Lok Sabha elections, Mamata can see cracks through this perfectly formulated policy. The citizens, specially the Hindus in the state now view BJP as a clean alternative to Mamata Banerjee’s government. This, Mamata Banerjee fears is going to be the end of her rule.
However, these initiatives of Prashant Kishor are mere eyewash. While instructing the party leaders of the changes they have to adopt, the poll strategist clearly stated that the instructions are only till October, following which, a second list will be framed, which will be followed until the end of the year. This clearly indicates that Mamata Banerjee actually does not believe in the changes she is adopting. She is merely checking off a list that has been handed over to her, to befool the citizens. As soon as the objectives are achieved, she will abandon the measures.
Essentially, it is upto the citizens to see right through the façade Prashant Kishor is trying to create around Mamata. The momentum BJP has created in Bengal must not go in vain. The citizens, specially the Hindus must realise that now is the time to act, to make history and for this they mustn’t forget the adversities they suffered at the hands of the tyrant government. They have a chance to choose differently, to choose a people’s government and this chance must be taken to ensure that Mamata doesn’t continue her tyrant rule.