The political passions in the state of West Bengal are heating up in view of the state Assembly polls scheduled for next year, and the initial blitzkrieg by the BJP seems to have put the ruling TMC on the back-foot already.
Union Home Minister Amit Shah held a massive rally in Shaheed Minar in the state capital, Kolkata on Sunday. During the public speech, he strongly pitched for a BJP government in the state. The Union Home Minister said, “Give BJP five years and we will make the state ‘Sonar Bangla.”
What has rattled the Mamata Banerjee led party though is his ferocious attack on “Didi ke bolo (tell Didi)” outreach programme that was launched last year with a helpline number and a website offering people to come forward with their grievances. The idea was to project ‘Didi’ (Mamata Banerjee) as people’s CM.
But Amit Shah has completely demolished this sham given the miserable track record of the TMC dispensation as far as the law and order situation in the state is concerned. He said, “Mamata didi goes to every village and asks ‘Didi Ke Bolo,’ they wonder what to answer. Today I have come here to tell you that don’t sit quietly. Whenever Didi asks ‘Didi Ke Bolo,’ you say, ‘Aar Noi Anyay‘, meaning, we will not tolerate this injustice.”
He also mounted an attack on Mamata Banerjee for the misinformation campaign that she launched against the Citizenship Amendment Act that was enacted in December last year. He said, “When we brought CAA, the opposition including Mamata Banerjee and Communists raised a scare that the citizenship of Muslims will be taken away. This is entirely untrue. Mamata Banerjee had earlier herself advocated for citizenship to persecuted minorities from neighbouring countries. After coming to power, she forgot her commitment.”
‘Didi ke Bolo’ had turned out to be a humiliating failure for Mamata Banerjee. Earlier this year, her political advisor, Prashant Kishor’s team I-PAC had revealed that 80 per cent of the TMC MLAs had failed to abide by party supremo Mamata Banerjee’s diktat with regard to the ‘Didi ke bolo’ drive.
Kishor himself had revealed how the party MLAs had skipped various phases of the outreach drive. A TMC leader had gone on to say, “We have been told that majority of the MLAs did not complete the seven phases of the outreach drive, which include spending a night at a worker’s house, hoisting party’s flag next morning in the area and addressing a rally in the locality. Kishor told us to ask the MLAs to complete all the phases of the outreach drive within January 12.”
Now, Amit Shah’s massive rally has forced a course correction as far as the Mamata Banerjee led party is concerned. By deriding ‘Didi ke bolo’ Shah has hit where it hurts the most. Now, Prashant Kishor seems to have been taken aback. He has therefore shifted from ‘Didi ke bolo’ to ‘Banglar Gorbo Mamata’, that is, ‘Bengal’s pride, Mamata’.
While ‘Didi ke bolo’ was aimed at projecting Mamata Banerjee as a protector and guardian- something that seems rather absurd given the deteriorating law and order situation in West Bengal accompanied with the highly negative image of the TMC cadres, ‘Banglar Gorbo Mamata’ is an attempt to invoke Bengali chauvinism.
The campaign will brand Mamata Banerjee as the “principal architect” working relentlessly towards restoring the past glory of Bengal, and will present her as a “passionate proponent” and avowed protecter of Bengal’s culture, dignity and past glory.
With this Mamata Banerjee is also trying to fall back upon her fierce appeasement mode as is manifested by an all-faith prayer to kick off the campaign.
The failure of ‘Didi ke bolo’ had reflected upon Mamata Banerjee’s declining popularity- something that Amit Shah has trained guns against rather successfully. This is why she has been directed by her political advisor- the overglorified political strategist, Prashant Kishor.
The fact that she had to invoke regional chauvinism and sub-nationalism shows how she has nothing material to show as far as her almost decade long stint as the West Bengal CM is concerned. Amit Shah’s Kolkata rally therefore seems to have made her really nervous.