The numbers did not favour the BJP in the 2021 West Bengal assembly polls when the saffron camp could not even cross the 100-mark in the 294-seat assembly. The existing number too has started depleting fast after the polls with the present headcount of the BJP having come down to 70 as several party legislators have joined Mamata Banerjee’s Trinamool Congress. Even two heavyweight party Lok Sabha members, Babul Supriyo and Arjun Singh have joined the ruling party.
According to political analysts, the BJP`s model of disruption for toppling opposition ruled state governments by attracting opposition MLAs might have worked for the party in states like Maharashtra and Madhya Pradesh, but in West Bengal that same model is not working in favour of the saffron camp. Rather, Mamata Banerjee is using the same model of disruption to weaken the BJP in the state.
In fact, according to political analysts, the condition of the BJP as an opposition party seems to be quite hopeless even when the issues against the ruling party are many. “The foremost issue are the mass irregularities and corruption in teachers` recruitment in the state, an issue which involves mass interest as genuine candidates were deprived to make room for ineligible candidates. But we hardly see the BJP hitting the streets to organize mass protests. Even with zero representation in the state assembly, the visible street movements by the CPI(M) and the Congress are more than that of the BJP. In such a situation, the BJP`s focus is on the progress made by central agencies like the Central Bureau of Investigation and the Enforcement Directorate in their probes in such recruitment scams,” said political analyst Arundhati Mukherjee.
In fact, both Union home minister Amit Shah and the BJP`s national president, JP Nadda, during their visits to West Bengal earlier this year advised the party`s state leadership to concentrate on organizing mass movements on burning issues in the state rather than depending on central agencies on this count. However, it is doubtful how far the state leadership of the BJP is serious in implementing the advice of Shah and Nadda at the ground level.
The dependence of the state BJP leaders on the CBI and the ED has continued and every time a ruling party leader is summoned by any central agency in connection with various cases like the teachers` recruitment scam, coal & cattle smuggling or post-poll violence, the saffron camp leaders give enthusiastic media bytes and express hopes that the ruling party leaders will soon be behind bars.
According to political analyst Rajagopal Dhar Chakraborty, currently the prime concern of the state BJP leadership is to keep the party intact by arresting the exodus of senior leaders from the party. “The strategy that the BJP is adopting in other states to weaken the opposition parties, it is facing the heat of that same strategy from the Trinamool Congress. So, the state unit of the BJP is dependent on the progress of the central agencies against the ruling party for future election successes. In my opinion, unless the BJP chalks out its own mass movement strategy on the issues in the state, there is little possibility for it to weaken the Trinamool Congress before the 2024 Lok Sabha elections. Sheer dependence on central agencies without any mass movement will not take the BJP ahead,” he said.
The Trinamool Congress leadership too has realized this weakness of the BJP in West Bengal. That is why TMC leaders including its national general secretary, Abhishek Banerjee have been claiming in public that the central agencies have become the last weapon of the BJP considering that their own organization and mass base in the state have totally vanished.
According to TMC state general secretary and party spokesman Kunal Ghosh, letting loose the central agencies is proof of the BJP`s political bankruptcy. “After the 2021 West Bengal assembly polls they have realized that the beginning of their end has started and the saffron camp does not stand any chance in West Bengal in the 2024 Lok Sabha polls. So, in desperation they are letting loose the central agencies,” he said.
However, the BJP`s state spokesman in West Bengal Shamik Bhattacharya rebuts this theory of the Trinamool Congress. “Can the Trinamool Congress leadership deny that there had been so many incidents of corruption? What has the BJP to do with the central agencies` probes when such investigations are being carried out following the orders of the Calcutta High Court? Does the BJP decide when and how the CBI or the ED will act?” he questioned.