BJP hopes to ride ‘Amphan fury’ to power in Bengal
The BJP is trying to garner tailwind from the Amphan crisis in West Bengal to topple the Mamata Banerjee government during the next year’s assembly polls, hoping history would repeat after over a decade in the state.
The party will come up with a nine-point chargesheet, underscoring alleged failure of the state government in dealing with the twin crises of Covid-19 and Cyclone Amphan, on Wednesday (May 27), coinciding with the completion of Trinamool Congress’s nine-year rule.
As protests erupt in many cyclone-hit areas of the state over anomalies in relief distribution and delay in restoration of water and power supply, the BJP quickly shed its initial inhibition of turning the natural calamity into a political issue and launched scathing attacks on the government.
TMC’s Metiabruz MLA Abdul Khaleque Molla sustained head injuries on Tuesday evening when residents at Kanchantala locality of Kolkata threw bricks at him when he went there to pacify the public who were protesting over disrupted power supply in the locality for the past six days.
Similar protests were seen in other parts of the state too.
The TMC, however, dubbed the protests as ‘BJP-instigated’.
“The government of India and the World Bank have given the West Bengal government crores and crores of rupees for flood control and rehabilitation of the Sunderbans. Where has all this money gone,” asked BJP state president Dilip Ghosh, who has upped his ante against the government after the cyclone.
He accused the ruling party of destroying the mangrove forests in Sunderbans to construct fisheries.
Ghosh along with other party workers on Monday even trooped the streets in Bidhannagar in Kolkata to clear uprooted trees off the road in a bid to embarrass the government, which has faltered in normalising even the capital city of Kolkata six days after the cyclone hit it.
The BJP president also took a dig at Banerjee for having to call the army to restore normalcy. “What was the outcome of having been awake all night on the fourteenth floor?” the BJP leader asked, taking a potshot at the chief minister’s night-long vigil from the control room set up at the state secretariat on the day of cyclone.
Stating that Bengal deserves better, BJP’s Barrackpore MP Arjun Singh flayed the state government as “incompetent and inhuman.”
The state BJP leaders’ salvos are in sharp contrast to Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s appreciation of Banerjee and her administration’s post-cyclone rehabilitation efforts.
The party sources said the attacks were well-planned and part of a larger strategy to try and mobilize a state-wide anti-government campaign, projecting it as incapable of tackling major crises.
The BJP’s thought process was somewhat moulded by the past memory of how TMC had gained from the erstwhile Left Front government’s poor relief and rehabilitation efforts in the aftermath of cyclone Aila in 2009.
The Left parties were washed off in the cyclone-hit areas in the elections that were held two years after the calamity. Apart from land movements and other issues, the cyclone also played a part in sinking the Left Front’s electoral fortune.
BJP leaders are of the view that there has been growing resentment among the people over the way the state government is tackling the two ongoing crises.
The protests over anomalies in ration distributions, and now over the post-cyclone rebuilding process has buoyed the saffron party.
To enlarge its support base beyond its core Hindutva votes, the BJP leaders admit in private that the saffron party would need more than just the politics of polarization.
“The issue of minority appeasement by the TMC government has given us some solid footing in the state. But to dislodge the government, we need to highlight more the issues of misgovernance,” claimed another BJP MP, who had joined the party not too long ago.
The MP and many other BJP leaders like him are of the view that there has been a fit of growing anger among the people over the way the state government is tackling the crises.
“If this anger can be properly channeled, it could snowball into a political avalanche ahead of assembly elections,” the MP said.
The BJP is more excited about the two issues as it will directly hit the TMC chief, whose popularity in the state continues to be high.
The earlier charges of the TMC leader’s alleged involvement in chit-fund and other scams and misuse of development funds did not make much electoral impact on the TMC as Banerjee continued to bail herself out on benefits of doubt.
Elaborating the party’s strategy, the BJP MP said since Banerjee was trying to project her as a “lone crusader” against the two catastrophes, it was she alone who would be held accountable for the government’s failures in these two fronts.
On her part, urging BJP not to indulge in “petty politics” over a humanitarian crisis, the chief minister appealed to the people to have a little patience and cooperate with her government.
The chief minister who herself rode to power cashing on people’s anger should know better that in politics nothing is petty as long as it fetches votes.
Her government must get its act together sooner than later as in a few months from now the state will switch into an election mode.
Maybe, she can ask Odisha chief minister Naveen Patnaik, who on Saturday sent a 500-member team to assist her government in relief and rescue operations, for some tips on how to turn natural calamities to sweep elections.