By Aishwarya Mukhopadhyay
West Bengal CM Mamata Banerjee announced on Thursday that she would protest against the increased interference by central government in Bengal. Banerjee is set to launch the ‘BJP Quit India Movement’ from 9th to 30th August. Taking inspiration from the Quit India Movement of 1942 by Mahatma Gandhi, Mamata has conceived this movement to be a significant move for ousting the BJP out of Bengal.
Significance of the Movement
21st July is commemorated as the Martyrs’ Day in Bengal to mark the death anniversary of the 13 people who were killed in a police firing during a protest held by the Congress Youth Wing in 1993. The protests led by Mamata Banerjee were cracked down upon by the then Communist government in Bengal.
Every year Banerjee gives a speech, and this year she announced the launch of the “BJP Quit India Movement”. The Quit India Movement began on 9th August 1942 and the intense momentum it gained led to the eventual collapse of the British Empire in India.
Banerjee seems to have taken it up as a challenge to oust the BJP out of Bengal and is extremely public in her critique of the BJP. She said in her speech that the BJP is interfering with the state functioning by meddling with the state’s bureaucracy and politics. Banerjee said that the TMC would vehemently support any alliance against the BJP, as long as it is united and had a shared goal. With the Central Bureau of Investigation (CBI) and Enforcement Directorate (ED) closing in on her party, Banerjee believes that the central government is behind most of these allegations.
Mamata’s style of politics
It is obvious that Banerjee wants to retain her power as Bengal CM, and she does have a good chance of doing so because of her distinct style and mass appeal. Mamata Banerjee’s brand of politics is very different from the rest of India. While most of the Indian political leaders such as Amit Shah prefer giving sermons from the dais, Banerjee is more comfortable among the people, mobilising them, which spreads the message of a certain degree of equality. She shows her might on the streets and has popularised a brand of street-fight politics, involving the common people from diverse backgrounds. It is a unique method, characterised by strikes or ‘bandhs’ and silent marches, symbolising the importance of opposition in a democracy.
TMC’s prowess in Bengal
Banerjee has been grossly underestimated by her political rivals. She has been heavily ridiculed by her contemporaries. But even in the worst circumstances, she has played in the offensive. This stands true even in the 2016 state elections when she had to face a CPM-Congress coalition and the Saradha-Narada scam, people saw Banerjee campaigning stronger than ever, and leaving no stone unturned. The seminars she organised with professionals from different disciplines are very popular and it convinced people that she wants to bring in legislation which benefits the common man.
At present, the Trinamool Congress is stronger than ever as they hold 34 out of the 42 seats in the state legislative assembly and has gained recognition as a national party. In fact, some commentators muse that if she is able to keep her party intact, Mamata Banerjee might be able to overtake the Congress to become the second largest national party in the country in the 2019 general elections.
BJP’s prospects in Bengal
Though the BJP has around two-third majority in the central legislature, it is struggling to find a stronghold in Bengal. The chant of development was the crux of Banerjee’s campaign as CM, and according to the people, she has delivered. The roads are better, the cities beautified, the women empowered, along with award-winning projects like Kanyashree. In this respect, the BJP’s development propaganda is simply a repeat of Banerjee’s manifesto. The promise of heavy industrialisation on the part of the BJP does not appeal to the Bengalis, given the recent memory of Nandigram during the CPM rule.
Adding to that, the perception of BJP being a communal party is not seen in a good light, given Bengal’s long history of violence post-independence and large minority population. The fear of BJP’s polarisation politics and the increase of riots in Bengal with the BJP’s presence has raised alarms all over the state. Leaders of the BJP in Bengal also have corruption and trafficking charges against them. The BJP at this moment provides no better alternative to the TMC.
Thus, for the BJP to make a mark in Bengal, they need to come up with effective strategies to counter Banerjee, for she seems to be resolute on holding on to her power. Though the BJP has launched a counter-movement, “Mamata Stop Appeasement”, it is the increase in riots and the fear of losing the Bengali identity that ensures people’s support for Mamata Banerjee at this time.
Featured Image Source: News Times Now
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