It is Amit Shah versus Prashant Kishor in West Bengal. Even as the COVID-19 pandemic has not served as an impediment to BJP’s poll campaign in the state, the TMC has had a lot of catching up to do. It wouldn’t be an overstatement to suggest that the TMC has been acting similar to a headless chicken, not knowing how to counter the BJP’s aggressive pitch in West Bengal. As a consequence, the erstwhile secular, and now Bengali-chauvinistic party has had to launch a number of ill-thought and haphazard social media campaigns, which it for some strange reason attempts to mirror on the ground.
In line with the same ill-thought election strategy of self-claimed “master political-strategist” Prashant Kishor, the TMC has now launched “Shoja Banglay Bolchi” (speaking in straightforward Bengali), which is reportedly a video snippet series anchored by TMC’s Rajya Sabha leader – Derek O’Brien. “One-minute video clips will be released at 11 am every Sunday, Wednesday and Friday. The series is expected to run for the next few months on social media,” the TMC said in a statement. “The videos will also focus on how Bengal, under Mamata Banerjee’s leadership, has made phenomenal progress in the last nine years across parameters. Other subjects include how federalism has eroded and how states have been deprived,” the statement further added.
The launch of such a non-original and boring campaign comes in the backdrop of a major reshuffle in the TMC ranks, by means of which Mamata Banerjee replaced the old guard with new and youthful faces. The said reshuffle was carried out on the heels of Prashant Kishor reportedly carrying out a year-long survey in Bengal, during which he identified possible rebels who might abandon the totalitarian party to join the BJP.
In the past few months, the TMC, under Prashant Kishor’s ill-informed political strategy has launched a number of campaigns, both digital, as well as on the ground. “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 was ferociously made a subject of attack by Union Home Minister Amit Shah in March this year. The idea of the outreach was to project ‘Didi’ (Mamata Banerjee) as a people’s CM. However, ‘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.
As a replacement to ‘Didi ke Bolo,’ Kishor then made the TMC launch ‘Banglar Gorbo Mamata,’ in an attempt to invoke Bengali chauvinism and toxic sub-nationalism. Further, the TMC has been calling the BJP a party of ‘outsiders’, with Mamata Banerjee recently saying that only Bengal can rule Bengal, and that a BJP win would mean letting Gujarat govern Bengal.
On the other hand, Amit Shah is reported to be learning Bangla in order to campaign in the regional language in the state. Further, the BJP has a massive social media presence in West Bengal and its campaigns exemplify and depict incredibly the anger which people of the state have against Mamata Banerjee. The BJP is fast galvanising public opinion in its favour, and is portraying, successfully so, the TMC as a tyrannical party. This, even as Amit Shah has not landed personally in Bengal yet.
How Mamata Banerjee, advised by Prashant Kishor, ran a concerted misinformation campaign against CAA and allowed West Bengal to burn in the fires of communalism which she and her party have stoked over the years in the state is something which need not be described in detail. By opposing CAA, Didi lost much favour with those Bengali Hindus who were to be given citizenship under the law. Further, her crude agenda of appeasement lay bare for all to see, on how she supported the cause of Bangladeshi infiltrators in her state while opposing citizenship to those Hindus who had been persecuted in Bengal’s bordering country.
Prashant Kishor, who advised upon the BJP’s electoral strategy in 2014, has since then taken to be employed, and subsequently sacked too, by many political parties. After the BJP’s thunderous victory in 2014, Prashant Kishor had come to think of himself as an unparalleled political strategist, whose strategies were invincible. However, the man has been made to eat humble pie repeatedly in head-to-head contests in which Amit Shah invested his time and energy, case in point being Uttar Pradesh of 2017.
Prashant Kishor is no master of election strategies. The man is a wannabe, narcissistic individual who thinks of himself to be a better expert on the subject than Amit Shah. That he even thinks of himself to be anywhere close to Amit Shah is cute, to say the least. As a matter of fact, Prashant Kishor is coming up with the most unoriginal of ideas in West Bengal to counter the BJP, even as the saffron party, under Amit Shah and JP Nadda, continues to remain miles ahead in the game.
Prashant Kishor has a habit of aligning with the political party/regional satrap which is certainly poised to win the upcoming election. This does not mean that TMC is winning Bengal. When Kishor teamed with Mamata Banerjee, she obviously had an advantage, which the BJP is now denting almost every day. Kishor is an extravagant number cruncher and has loads of data to back him. But data alone does not win elections for parties or people. That’s the end of it. To think of Prashant Kishor as anything more than a data analyst would be foolish, to say the least. The man has carefully crafted a larger than life aura around himself by winning elections that were already won.
Wherever Prashant Kishor thinks of himself more than what he actually is, he is made to face a drubbing which ideally, he should remember throughout. For example, Kishor being sacked as the JD(U) Vice President served as a reminder that a wannabe political strategist like him should not flex too much muscle.