Did West Bengal Chief Minister and Trinamool Congress (TMC) chief Mamata Banerjee go too far against Prime Minister Narendra Modi and the BJP on the issue of demonetisation?
The results in the recent Assembly elections that overwhelmingly went to Modi's favour have not only proved that demonetisation was not as harmful as Banerjee tried to project, it also put the TMC supremo's plan of building a federal front in a disarray. It also reduced the party's significance in Rajya Sabha, for the landslide victories in UP and Uttarakhand would help the NDA get a majority there as well.
That the situation is adverse for the Bengal CM has also been proved by the re-emergence of the Narada ghosts. While the Calcutta High Court has ordered a CBI probe in the case, prima facie evidence and opinions of forensic experts have confirmed that the video tapes showing top TMC leaders accepting bribes for a favour ahead of last year's Assembly elections are not doctored. It will now be up to the BJP-led Centre to unleash the forces against Banerjee's party.
Why did TMC MLA back BJP in Manipur and why was no action taken against him?
Is it because of this reason that the TMC's lone MLA in Manipur – Tongbram Robindro Singh – backed the BJP to help it form the government there overtaking the Congress?
Singh told the media after the government of N Biren Singh proved its majority on the floor of the House on Monday (March 20) that he had backed it as per the instructions of his party's top leadership. TMC's national vice president Mukul Roy countered Singh's charges, saying the latter had been asked to get closer to the Congress but he did the opposite and went to the BJP. When asked why the party did not take steps against Singh, Roy said it could still do that but it cared for Singh's personal safety.
Really? It's quite difficult to believe that a party that is run on the whims of one leader could so easily let go of such a breach of instruction and that too when it is related to its No. 1 foe at the moment.
Why did TMC MP Sultan Ahmed support Yogi Adityanath's elevation as CM?
Even if the TMC top brass felt a bit philanthropic in the case of Singh, what's its justification for its MP Sultan Ahmed defending the elevation of Yogi Adityanath as the chief minister of Uttar Pradesh, particularly when his boss Banerjee has often been critical of the 'communal' forces? Even Banerjee herself gave a restrained reaction to the BJP's overwhelming victory in the Assembly elections, for she had been desperately hoping that the Samajwadi Party-Congress alliance would be able to stop Modi's juggernaut.
But the BJP cannot go all-out against Mamata now if it wants to rule Bengal
The Left in Bengal didn't miss the chance of mocking the 'hidden' understanding between Modi and Didi. The Opposition had also said the same when the central inquiry in the Saradha case lost its steam after a promising start. It was said that the BJP-led Centre would stop short of arresting Banerjee as that would backfire in the approaching Assembly elections of 2016.
It was a correct assessment of the situation. Despite all the charges against her party, Banerjee single-handedly led TMC to bag 211 out of 294 seats in the Assembly.
Even now, the BJP can only rock the boat to make the TMC nervous but it cannot really sink it. For, if it does so, Banerjee would also gain more traction in the state in the general elections of 2019 and Assembly elections of 2021, delaying the BJP's ambition of dominating Bengal.
BJP's strategy will involve putting pressure on Mamata and also working on the ground
The saffron party would do better in increasing the pressure on Banerjee so that her party is forced to compromise at crucial moments, giving Modi strategic and moral victories. Simultaneously, it must work on strengthening its presence on the ground and take on the state administration, which has often been accused of playing unabashed politics of minority appeasement, putting the security of the border state and that of the entire country in serious jeopardy.
This two-faced strategy would give the BJP the benefits it is aiming to reap in West Bengal by 2026, if not in 2021.