Even when Mamata Banerjee was part of the BJP-led NDA government, the party’s efforts didn’t extend beyond retaining the support of nine MPs she had in the Lok Sabha. For that matter, West Bengal has never been the BJP’s top priority.
But things seem to have changed now. BJP president Rajnath Singh, who recently won a fresh three-year term, has decided to raise the party’s stakes in Bengal by doing his best to show that Mamata is still important for the BJP, despite her growing proximity with the Congress.
Rajnath skipped a meeting with President APJ Abdul Kalam on Uttar Pradesh affairs to be in Kolkata to express solidarity with her on the Singur issue. Keen to show that he supports farmers’ cause in the Marxist-ruled Bengal, Rajnath, along with top party leaders from Bengal, got himself arrested on Durgapur Expressway on his way to Singur on Monday.
This issue is dear to Mamata. She has locked horns with Chief Minister Buddhadeb Bhattacharya over the Tata Motors small car project coming up at Singur. With her agitation against the project turning violent, Rajnath has announced that his party is backing her campaign against the acquisition of farmland for the project.
Rajnath’s arrest had its echo in Parliament where BJP members disrupted proceedings. The 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 for 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 the Trinamool Congress on October 9 was credited to the Congress’ support.