West Bengal polls: BJP, TMC engage in battle of nerves
The ruling Trinamool Congress in West Bengal and its arch-rival the Bharatiya Janata Party engaged in a battle of nerves even as the first two phases of the assembly elections have already been held with six more rounds remaining
The ruling Trinamool Congress in West Bengal and its arch-rival the Bharatiya Janata Party engaged in a battle of nerves even as the first two phases of the assembly elections have already been held with six more rounds remaining.
Reports of political clashes between the two parties continued to pour in from across the state ahead of the third phase polls scheduled on Tuesday when 31 constituencies are slated to go into elections.
While Prime Minister Narendra Modi and Union home minister Amit Shah claimed during public rallies on Thursday and Friday that TMC supremo Mamata Banerjee was sure to lose in Nandigram and the TMC would be defeated this time, the latter hit back on Saturday.
Former BJP veteran Yashwant Sinha, who recently joined the TMC, said in a press conference at the Trinamool Congress headquarters in Kolkata that late on Friday night Prime Minister Narendra Modi, Union home minister Amit Shah and BJP president JP Nadda held a meeting in Delhi to discuss the ongoing polls in Bengal.
“It was an internal meeting and there was a frank exchange of views. The BJP troika has concluded that the party’s performance in the first two phases would be very disappointing. They know that their performance in the remaining six phases would be all the more disappointing, as they were pinning their hopes on the first two phases,” said Sinha.
Earlier on Thursday, while polls were being held in 30 constituencies, including Nandigram in East Midnapore, Modi said in a public rally that there were rumours about Banerjee planning to contest from a second seat as defeat was imminent in Nandigram.
“With every phase of polls, Didi’s nervousness will increase. On the cricket field, if a player repeatedly questions the umpire, it means that the player is at fault. In elections, if someone blames the EVM and the ECI, it means the game is over. Didi, defeat is in front of you. Accept it,” Modi said on Saturday while addressing a rally in Hooghly.
“I have heard, not verified, that brainstorming is going on within the TMC. Some of the wise children who are still left in the TMC were discussing that Didi’s hasty decision to contest from Nandigram proved to be a blunder. I have been told that sensing defeat in Nandigram, some people had decided that Mamata should contest from another seat. But some wise men told didi that it would be her second blunder. Some people told her that if she loses from two seats in Bengal then TMC’s political future would be at stake,” said Modi while addressing a rally in south Bengal.
On Friday, Shah had said that it was clear from the first two phases that the BJP would win more than 50 seats out of the 60 constituencies and didi was losing from Nandigram.
Banerjee and top TMC leaders were quick to refute the claims with Banerjee herself saying that she was confident of her win from Nandigram and that Modi shouldn’t advise her as she was not a BJP member.
Countering the BJP’s claims, a TMC tweet on Thursday triggered speculation over whether the West Bengal chief minister would contest against Modi from Varanasi or the party would field someone to challenge him in the 2024 Lok Sabha polls.
“Didi is winning Nandigram. The question of her fighting from another seat doesn’t arise. @narendramodi Ji, retract from your efforts to mislead people before they see your lies with the end of nomination in WB [West Bengal]. Look for a safer seat in 2024, as you will be challenged in Varanasi,” the TMC tweeted.
“It was Banerjee who challenged the BJP by announcing that she would contest from Nandigram. Now that the TMC is certain that they are going to lose they are putting up a bold phase to boost the morale of the workers. But the trend is clear and people of Bengal know who would win the battle,” said Samik Bhattacharya, BJP spokesperson.
At Katwa in Burdwan district, TMC workers even went to the extent of distributing sweets among themselves on Friday, claiming that the battle has already been won.
“Such psychological wars are common during the polls and have also been seen in the 2019 elections. While this is used to boost the morale of workers, it also has some effect on the swing voters,” said Biswanath Chakraborty, a professor of political science at Rabindra Bharati University.
While the two parties were fighting a war of words, clashes among the party workers continued across the state.
BJP candidate Motibur Rahaman from Harishchandrapur in north Bengal’s Malda district was allegedly heckled by TMC workers on Friday night. Both parties have lodged complaints against each other with the local police. Earlier in the day, BJP’s candidate Dipak Halder at Diamond Harbour in South 24 Parganas was allegedly thrashed by TMC workers. The ruling party, however, rubbished the allegations.
Clashes also broke out at Bhangar in South 24 Parganas and Krishnanagar in Nadia. At Barjora on Bankura clashes broke out between the BJP and the TMC on Friday night leaving at least two injured.
At Sabang in West Midnapore, a former TMC supporter’s wife was allegedly heckled on Saturday. While the TMC alleged she was thrashed by BJP workers, and had to be rushed to the hospital, the latter rubbished TMC’s allegations.