PM Modi and CM Mamata having been hitting each other below the belt during the last days of the electioneering. The PM’s party, BJP chose to select Bengal to offset their likely losses from the Hindi Belt, UP in particular. I had lost the count, the numbers of senior BJP leaders other than Modi, repeatedly visiting the besieged state, and taking on the CM and the CM Mamata putting up a valiant resistance.
Choosing Mamata itself could have been a master strategy of the talented President of the ruling party, Amit Shah, tying the PM aspirant Mamata, limiting her to West Bengal. Initially, there was a grand plan of Mamata to make her Pan India presence, to help her and her party to stake a claim as a national one.
Choosing Mamata as the decoy prime-opponent was also to keep the door open for BSP Supremo Mayawati for any post-poll alliance. The opposition voiced their support to Mamata at her hour of unprecedented crisis, when the Election Commission came heavily ending the campaigning 24 hours earlier than the schedule, as well as abruptly transferring a few key state officials.
Breaking of the statue could alter the poll results of Kolkata North, for both BJP and the TMC, as the Bengalis are struck with a hurt in Bengali pride by breaking Vidyasagar’s bust, and the sizeable Hindi-speaking population in the assembly segment are equally hurt by claims of ‘Hindi outsiders,’ behind the crime. Apparently, in a moment of fury, she forgot that our boys, for lack of employment, are now found in every remote corner of India.
I also have a feeling that in the event of BJP scripting the questionable trespassing into the college and the aftermath of vitriolic exchanges, it might result in a loss of at the most 9 seats in Bengal for BJP, but their focus might have been in the rest of India with the balance seats. Polarization of votes, after all, has been the theme of this election, throwing away all the earlier election pretences.
2019 will be remembered, how not to campaign, a PM climbing down to Panchayat levels to take on the opposition, and CM Mamata going several notches down from giving a slap, but ‘democratic’ – whatever it could mean, sending the PM to Jail, to make him do sit-ups, besides attack on his non-existent marital life. If the CM was advised to present a bold, brave image, it simultaneously reflected a recalcitrant and egoistic image as well, similar to the one Mayawati held, when she was the Chief Minister of Uttar Pradesh. This would result in others shunning Mamata and dashing her hopes of ever elevating herself beyond the borders of Bengal.
Perhaps, the body language and the campaign utterances are the only kinds the voters like and lap up, which may not augur well for India.
I can recall many PMs, a few with whom I was privileged to meet and their dignified and awing presence. Modi will have to work hard to reach that level.