:- Nirendra Dev
New Delhi: The 'Jai Shri Ram' controversy in West Bengal shows that the Hindu nationalism is back in the province that has had a past record in patriotism and the Hindu narratives did dominate the cultural and political space.
BJP leaders from the state feel their arch rival in the state Trinamool Congress chief Mamata Banerjee has only walked to their 'trap' by constantly losing temper just on hearing the slogan 'Jai Shri Ram'.
"Even from literature and cultural point of view, Bengal renaissance was influenced by the Hindu culture. The song 'Vande Mataram' came from Bankim Chandra Chattopadhyay's novel 'Anand Math' and it had the Hindu ingredients and influence. Hence the plank of 'minority appeasement' charge against Mamata Banerjee has stuck," a key party leader said here.
In the run up to the seven-phased parliamentary elections, the BJP strategists feel the message had gone down well that the saffron party has able to 'appeal' to Hindu Bengalis.
This was seen as an 'exception and departure' as Bengalis for long were considered part of the larger 'Left liberal brigade'.
The mandate 2019 showed Prime Minister Narendra Modi has won for a strong India and for 'protecting self respect' of Hindu Bengalis, is now the well established refrain.
Sources said displaying 'departure' from BJP's known politics of Temple and cow protection issues - as was done with all the machinations in Uttar Pradesh - for Bengal - the saffron party leaders started talking about mundane issues - jobs, women empowerment, Goondaism and Tolabaj (extortion) racket unleashed by Trinamool and industrialisation.
"The repeated assertions by Amit Shah and other BJP leaders such as Dilip Ghosh to reach out to intellectuals as well as commoners especially in rural Bengal was essentially to break the umbilical cord between Bengali 'Bhadrolok' and pro-Marxist intellectualism. This was broken," the BJP source says.
In fact, the saffron party leaders say "Mamata Banerjee's 'confrontational attitude' with BJP cadres and the Modi government from Ram Navami to CBI actions against police commissioner and permission row related to Hanuman Jayanti and the Jai Shri Ram slogans at a later stage betrayed 'nervousness' in Mamata Banerjee.
"More she confronted us and attacked Prime Minister Modiji, more people thought we are the genuine competitors to her. Therefore, we got the Left votes and also from Congress. Now the ball is set rolling for the ouster of Mamata regime in 2021," says Mr Ghosh.BJP national general secretary Kaliash Vijayvargiya has worked hard with other colleagues to ensure this transition in a state where BJP has 'immense organisational weakness'.
"Assembly polls in Bengal are due in 2021, but if Mamata Banerjee cannot keep her flock together, polls may be held earlier and for that BJP should not be blamed," he said in Delhi.
Senior leaders say all these have not come easy way. A well structured campaign was launched especially in areas closer to border areas with Bangladesh where attempts were made to capture the Bengali mind and 'refugees' especially among those whose forefathers had to leave Bangladesh during partition in 1947.
The Citizenship Amendment Bill (CAB) was piloted with all necessary vigour and the party 'risked' in alienating its support base in Assam but the gamble did help.
Even BJP leader from Assam Himanta Biswa Sarma later said: "The opposition campaign was on faulty line. I have said it earlier also, the CAB draft law was done out of humanitarian consideration for Hindus, Sikhs, Parsis and other minorities in countries like Bangladesh and Pakistan".
Newly elected BJP MP from Barrackpore Arjun Singh, who defeated senior Trinamool leader Dinesh Trivedi, now says BJP workers and supporters will send about 10 lakh 'Jai Shri Ram' cards to Mamata Banerjee.
In fact, leaders like Arjun Singh say Mamata Banerjee tried to bring an image makeover during election itself and started chanting Sanskrit Mantras during rallies.
"Her nervousness was clear and this nervousness is our strength," says another state-based leader.BJP leaders say another major factor working in favour of BJP vis-a-vis anti-Mamata voters in Bengal is the alleged double standards of CPI-M and other Left parties.
"The pro-Left voters in Bengal who want to vote against Mamata often say what is the use voting for CPI-M when in Delhi it does hobnobbing with Mamata Banerjee. The Left vote collapse will only add to BJP's vote share," said a CPI-M leader in Durgapur on the eve of polling day.
No wonder though by a marginal difference BJP nominee S S Ahluwalia could snatch Bardhaman-Durgapur parliamentary seat from Trinamool Congress.
Explaining the political dichotomy further, one BJP leader in Purulia says ? "In more ways than one, West Bengal polity is polarised today. A major section is against Mamata Banerjee, one section has been drawn to the BJP due to macho Hindutva politics. And a clear message that it is BJP which can take on Trinamool. Of course, Mamata Banerjee still has some votes and is perhaps still the best hope for her party".(UNI)