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Ground Zero: Will Nandigram make PM Modi & BJP "invincible" electorally?

WebdeskMar 31, 2021, 02:04 PM IST

Ground Zero: Will Nandigram make PM Modi & BJP "invincible" electorally?

New Delhi: Snatching power in West Bengal and humbling of Mamata Banerjee would mean 'endorsement' of Prime Minister Narendra Modi's policies including the strongly contested three farm laws, the controversial CAA and also the manner Modi-Amit Shah duo has led India through the Covid19 crisis. Thus, there is the immense political significance of the April 1 battle at 'ground zero' Nandigram. After the marginalisation of Congress and a number of regional players, Mamata Banerjee is perhaps the 'last' mass level leader who has been steadfastly fighting BJP, unlike Odisha Chief Minister Naveen Patnaik or JD(S) leader H D Deve Gowda. Home Minister Amit Shah, who is also BJP's chief election strategist in West Bengal, says, "The defeat of Mamata Banerjee in Nandigram would be a direct and vital step to achieve Ashol Poriborton (true change) in the state". In fact, political observers say a poor show by Mamata in her constituency will loosen her grip on Trinamool Congress and the party will collapse. The battle in Nandigram and the rest of the multi-phased polling West Bengal will have a huge impact in national politics. The BJP strategists feel if Trinamool is humbled in its citadel, all other opposition parties across India will clearly get demoralised. BJP's Lok Sabha MP at Barrackpore, Arjun Singh said, "The Trinamool Congress will further disintegrate at various levels''. Even others agree. "It (Trinamool defeat) will have a huge psychological impact beyond Bengal. It will put a question on the viability of putting up a challenge to the BJP," poll strategist Prashant Kishor has been quoted in a section of the media. The detractors of the Modi-led dispensation have already dubbed the entire governance scenario and regular election wins by BJP as 'electoral autocracy. Such critical descriptions are definitely uncalled for. On this backdrop comes the real significance of the on-going massive election process especially in states like West Bengal, Assam and partly in Kerala too. India's External Affairs Minister S. Jaishankar has rightly dismissed the reports of some Swedish and US-based organisations as acts of hypocrisy. "I am self-assured about my country, I don't need certificates from other countries, who clearly have some agenda," he asserted. But it goes without stating that stakes are high in these elections. Observers say 'the Mother of all elections will be on Thursday, April 1 wherein West Bengal Chief Minister and Trinamool Congress supremo Mamata Banerjee's electoral fate would be decided by the voters. "There is definitely an added importance about the battle in Nandigram," Shah said after successful rounds of roadshows and small election meetings at Nandigram on the last day of campaigning. Of course, elections in West Bengal and Assam have the special significance of their own - both separately and also if taken as a unit. In two states - Bengal and Assam, there are a sizable Muslim population. In Mamata Banerjee-ruled West Bengal, the religious minority group form around 30 per cent of the population. Therefore, in both Assam and Bengal, issues like citizenship, CAA and illegal infiltration of Bangladeshis are livewire issues. The BJP is banking on its traditional 'Hindu nationalist ideology' and development cards pushed by Prime Minister Narendra Modi not only to draw votes but wrest power in Bengal - where they would create history if there is a win. Keen to consolidate its hold in Assam, the saffron outfit has been able to motivate the 'Hindu support' base by promising to ensure effective implementation of NRC and 'identify and deport' hundreds of Bangladeshi illegal infiltrators who fled Bangladesh to these two states. Do not forget, none other than Home Minister Shah had described them as “termites” eating into India’s resources. Even the Prime Minister had said in the past that two types of people have come from Bangladesh, one the refugees who were forced after being thrown out in the name of the Hindu religion and the other infiltrators. In Bengal, BJP leaders accuse Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee of appeasing Muslims and hence the real test in Nandigram and other seats in this eastern Indian state is also on the issue of 'genuine Hindutva' vis-a-vis Hindu bashing and Muslim appeasement cards of Mamata. BJP state unit chief Dilip Ghosh says: "TMC has made chanting Jai Shri Ram a criminal offence. Just like how the Britishers were irked by Vande Mataram slogan, the Mamata regime gets upset and scared of Jai Shri Ram. It is time for her exit". Suvendu Adhikari, BJP candidate, who is taking on Mamata thunders repeatedly in election rallies, "Begum ke ami harabo (The emphasis is on word Begum to signifiy Mamata as a leader of the Muslims)". "Election victories in Bengal and Assam would mean entire eastern India right from Bihar to northeastern states are on the same page with the Modi government and this would also mean Modi has no challenger across India," says Naga politician Thomas Ngullie. He points out that after all Mamata Banerjee is the 'last' mass level leader and a powerful regional player who has been steadfastly fighting BJP and Modi-Shah duo.

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