The high voltage Bengal legislative assembly polls seems to be taking curious turns and twists as the dates draw closer. Ever since the run-up to the polls began, the first half had certainly been dominated by TMC ministers, MLAs, MPs and other leaders switching over camps and joining the BJP and the Saffron topbrass nearly succeeding in creating a perception that they have as if already come to power in the state. Things only aggravated after the Mamata Banerjee-led Trinamul Congress came up with its list of candidates for the ensuing polls. Sitting MLAs and other ticket aspirants, who were denied tickets, started deserting the party and joining the Saffron Brigade, lured by some promises, of course.
The BJP, on its parts, kept its doors open and put the candidate list on hold, awaiting and expecting many more from the TMC camp to come to their fold. Many more did actually switch camps and the BJP leadership obliged most of them in its first two lists, except the former Kolkata Mayor, former TMC minister and one-time Mamata Banerjee’s Man Friday- Sovan Chattopadhyay and his ‘special friend’ Baishakhi Bandyopadhyay. While a palpably crestfallen Sovan-Bashakhi immediately quit their new party-BJP, original BJP supporters and activists across the state went amok, protesting against the dominance of turncoats over the seasoned and long-time BJP campaigners in those lists. Angry party workers not only vandalized party offices in different districts and suburban towns, but also put up blockades in front of the party’s new headquarters at Hastings in downtown Kolkata and put up road blockades in many places across the state. Although party leadership is trying to put up a brave front publicly, trying to down play the incidents, there are no signs of these angry protestors bowing down. Things have reached such a pass that the Union Home Minister Amit Shah first had to over stay in Kolkata and when he finally left for the Capital, state party leaders were called to Delhi in order to find out some solution and avoid further embarrassment before the polls.
It was actually coming. Only the Saffron mandarins had failed to read it in their over aggression to wrest power from Mamata in Bengal. Just to give an example, former TMC MLA and one of the key faces of farmers’ movement against Tata Nano plant at Singur, Rabindra Nath Bhattacharya (89) has been given a BJP ticket this time, while party’s announced stand is to bring back the Tatas to Singur. Did the party leaders really expect party rank and file to accept this quietly?
If this is one part of the story, the other –and more concerning part is the significantly thinner and waning crowd at Shah-Nadda-Yogi Adityanath’s rallies in different parts of the state.
Would Mo-Shah’s party pay heavy price of allowing indiscriminate influx of TMC leaders into the party fold?
For the time being, problems began even before the copter landed!