Mamata's message to Trinamool workers: BJP is enemy No.1 in Bengal
To battle the wave of saffronisation sweeping West Bengal with the BJP now settling into being the principal Opposition after an increase in its vote share, Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee of the All India Trinamool Congress has asked her party to work hard to counter the rise of the saffron party.
This message to Trinamool workers comes just before BJP president Amit Shah's Siliguri visit on 25 April, where he will be starting the first "booth chalo drive".
Mamata, on 21 April, at the organisational election of the party, urged members to start working at the booth level to strengthen the party's connect with the people.
”We have received information that their party workers (BJP’s) from other states are infiltrating in Bengal and this is a dangerous situation. You have to be more aware. Do not be afraid with the rise of BJP. You need to work hard to strengthen contact with the grass root people,” she said.
Mamata will also be holding a public rally on 25 April to urge the people not to get mislead by "BJP’s endeavour to create a religious divide in the society".
A strengthened BJP
Banerjee’s statement comes at a time when saffron camp is slowly taking root in a state that has been resolutely always given its votes to the Left. In the recent Kanthi South by-elections, predominantly an AITC bastion, BJP came in second with an increase in its vote share from 9% in 2006 to 35% in 2017.
AITC workers and BJP workers have also come head to head a few times over the past few months, particularly during the Ram Navami celebrations.
More so, Trinamool Congress firmly believes that the recent FIRs filed by the CBI against 12 AITC members in the Narada sting case, is just another example of the BJP using central state machinery to destroy opposition parties. Mamata has called the whole episode a "conspiracy".
AITC has also accused the BJP of poaching several of its members who have a lot of support on the ground.
The BJP has claimed that Mamata is frightened by the rise of the BJP in the state. Dilip Ghosh, state BJP president, says, “After CBI lodged FIR against AITC leaders in the Narada sting operation, as well as our rise in Bengal, Banerjee has become frightened which is why she is urging her party leaders to fight bravely. The Modi wave has begun and we are trying hard to strengthen our base in Bengal.”
A lot to be done
Mamata, the party needs to work overtime for the next two years before the next Lok Sabha election scheduled on 2019.
“You have to treat the next two years as a challenge. We have to fight against the malicious campaign and conspiracies of the BJP," she said.
Urging all regional parties to come together and form a federal front, Banerjee said they must join hands to "fight against BJP’s political vendetta and religious polarisation.”
For some political analysts, Mamata's call to arms is just the Chief Minister attempting to put on a brave face in front of the BJP to prevent large scale defections from AITC to the BJP.
But others believe that it is Mamata's first step in clawing out the foundations the BJP has created for itself in the state. Kakoli Sengupta, an eminent political analyst and professor of International Relations at Jadavpur University, said: “Mamata Banerjee's statement once again proved that she will make an all out effort so that BJP cannot get an opportunity to mislead people on communal issues and divide people on religious grounds.”