Even when Mamata Banerjee was in the Vajpayee government, the BJP’s efforts were not beyond retaining the support of nine MPs she had in the Lok Sabha. For that matter, Bengal has never been the BJP’s top priority though the state ruled by the Left for more than two decades.
Now, BJP president Rajnath Singh who won a fresh three-year term recently has decided to raise the party’s stakes in Bengal by doing his best to show Mamata is still important for BJP, notwithstanding her growing proximity with the Congress.
Rajnath skipped a meeting with President APJ Abdul Kalam on UP affairs to be in Kolkata to express solidarity with her on the Singur issue.
Keen to show that he is for farmers even in the Marxist-ruled West Bengal, Rajnath along with top party leaders from West Bengal got himself arrested on Durgapur Expressway while their way to Singur on Monday.
This issue is dear to Mamata who has locked horns with Chief Minister Buddhadeb Bhattacharya over the Tata Motors small car project coming up at Singur.
With Mamata’s agitation against the project turning violent, Rajnath has announced that his party is backing her campaign against the acquisition of farm land for the car project.
"Land can be acquired for industrialisation, we don't oppose that. But we are against the acquisition of prime agricultural land," Rajnath said before he left for Kolkata.
Flaying the police action against Trinamool supporters, Rajnath said "the Left dispensation claims to be a government of proletariat but it is acting like a dictator."
Rajnath’s arrest had its echo in Parliament where BJP members disrupted proceedings. BJP’s deputy leader in Lok Sabha VK Malhotra accused the Left administration of being “intolerant” of any democratic protest.
Ironically, Mamata had ditched the BJP only last month to join hands with the Congress in the recent by-polls in the state.
The Trinamool and Congress came together after several years on the Singur issue. The success of the 12-hour strike called by Trinamool Congress on October 9 was credited to support the Congress extended to her.
Before the Singur issue, Mamata had backed the Congress nominee for the Malda Lok Sabha seat although her official ally, the BJP, had put up a candidate. The Congress reciprocated by not fielding a candidate for the Bongaon assembly seat in North 24 Parganas. The Trinamool withdrew its candidate in Purulia and the Congress in Katwa - both Lok Sabha seats.
Yet, Rajnath believes that the BJP should not give up on Mamata. He reasons that the Congress’ support for Mamata is only a lip service as it cannot antagonise the Left, which is backing the UPA government at the centre.