Arjun Singh, the BJP ‘strongman’ is back in the TMC camp, which he had quit in 2019 to be a part of the saffron party. Though many have called out the Barrackpore MP Arjun Singh for being an “opportunist,” read as I decode the exact reason why TMC turncoats like Singh are moving back to the Trinamool Congress.
Arjun Singh: A political astute
Despite being a four-time MLA from the Trinamool Congress, the then TMC MLA chose to switch sides and joined the Bharatiya Janata Party ahead of the 2019 general elections.
Arjun Singh had won the Bhatpara assembly seat consecutively four times since 2001 as a TMC candidate. Bhatpara was a Singh bastion as his father used to contest from the same seat on a Congress ticket. Arjun Singh too began his political career with the Indian National Congress, but soon joined the TMC and gave a tough fight to the Left in the state.
In March 2019, he joined the Bharatiya Janata Party and contested the 2019 Lok Sabha elections on a BJP ticket from the Barrackpore Lok Sabha constituency. He registered victory by defeating TMC’s Dinesh Trivedi.
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Being saffronised is not an easy task in Didi’s Bengal
Arjun Singh had switched sides and was now a BJP man, but his way to and in the saffron party was not easy. He had faced several challenges from his old allies. According to Singh, many cases were made against him by the ruling TMC within two months of joining the BJP, in order to “harass him”.
Reportedly, attempts were made by the Barrackpore Police to arrest him on the day of the counting of general elections. However, the Supreme Court of India accepted Singh’s appeal and granted him relief.
Singh is the man who paid the price of leaving Didi’s camp. During the elections, he had alleged that his house was attacked with bombs, and stones were hurled at them. His residence was attacked once again after the elections with seven rounds of fire and two bombs were hurled. In September 2019, he even sustained a head injury during a clash between the BJP and TMC supporters. The attacks continued, in 2021 three bombs were hurled at his house allegedly by TMC goons and he was again attacked in January this year.
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Despite facing several attacks, he stood tall and defended the Sanatani principles he advocated for. He was the one who vocally criticized the central BJP leadership as they failed to protect the party workers from the post-poll violence in Bengal. He was also a vocal critic of Mamata Banerjee and her style of politics. But the fact of the matter is one will have to bow down if they want to survive in the reign of Didi.
BJP ‘strongman’ Arjun Singh returns to TMC
Many factors can be traced that might have persuaded Singh to turn back to TMC’s camp, fear of life being the major one. Fear of life is a real state in a state of democratic India and the state is TMC ruled West Bengal.
Bengal has always been a violent state, or say the Left has kept the state that way. The violence culture continued even in Mamata’s regime and even more prominently. Political killings, murders, incidences of abuses and clashes, and hurling of stones to petrol bombs do not account for headlines in the state, such is the case.
The fear has not even left the judges of the Supreme Court of India. In June last year, Kolkata born SC judge Justice Aniruddha Bose recused himself from hearing appeals of West Bengal CM Mamata Banerjee and state law minister Moloy Ghatak about their role on the day of the arrest of four TMC leaders by CBI in the Narada sting tape case.
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In the political spectrum too, Arjun Singh is not a lone case of TMC turncoats returning to the TMC, if the case of Mukul Roy is kept in mind. BJP tried to gain ground with stalwarts like Mukul Roy, however, very soon they ditched the saffron party and went back to the TMC camp along with his son Subhranshu.
The fear of life is often added up by the BJP’s lack of commitment to its workers and leaders in the state of West Bengal. Arjun Singh’s ‘ghar-wapsi’ is surely a setback for the BJP in the eastern state. With Lok Sabha elections just 2 years away, the saffron party cannot afford to give up on leaders of Singh’s calibre. The exodus triggered due to fear of life can only be countered if the central leadership decides to step on the ground and commit to the safety of the cadre as well as leaders, and this is the only way if the saffron party wants to survive in the state of West Bengal.