Bengal rejects BJP; puts Mamata as formidable opponent to Modi

Some truths need to be told. Some facts need to be heard. And, India, whether we like it or not, is in a healthcare crisis. The Government has failed to estimate the second wave’s ferocity despite warnings since a year. Yet, we still have a leadership at the Centre that is busy with perception and image management. 

Even as the country helplessly watches people gasp for breath in search of beds, ventilators and Oxygen cylinders, the Election Commission wanted an 8-phase election in Bengal in the middle of a pandemic, thinking it would eventually benefit the BJP. 

From heckling her to character assassination to calling out names, the BJP stooped to unthinkable lows in the West Bengal election to win against fire-brand CM Mamata Banerjee. The Trinamool Congress is not particularly a disciplined party but it does hold a considerable stronghold and also, has no ideological underpinnings. 

Like most of India’s regional parties, it relies on the cult of a personality, in this case “Mamta Banerjee” who is also referred to as Bengal’s daughter. Now, taking on the PM of the country is not an easy task. But, Mamata fought hard this time. 

Now, let’s look at how BJP’s promises were made in Bengal. First, they did not promise any development or good things that people will buy into. What they created instead was polarisation in the name of religion. Of course, it may work against TMC to an extent where anti-incumbency against the government was built. But, apart from Modi’s image, there’s nothing much the BJP is promising in any state nowadays. 

This time it was different. BJP’s entry into the electoral contest in Bengal was also a wake-up call for Mamta herself to gain back her grip on the state and party. And, we saw everything happen in this election — a country’s PM heckling the sitting CM does not bode well for us. At least for the dignity of the PM’s chair, that shouldn’t have happened. But, that also exemplified how BJP forgets its stature or dignity when they hear the word “elections.” 

But, on the whole, Mamata Banerjee’s victory in Bengal indicates her emergence as a national leader because she has defeated a powerful incumbent national party. In these circumstances, going further, She is also likely to emerge as a consensus opposition leader in their fight against the BJP. It is also important to note that no other opposition leader has been able to mount a successful narrative against Modi, like Didi did.

Another crucial trait that works in Mamata Banerjee’s favour is that she has a personally clean and empathetic leader. She is not hated, like Modi. In such a hard-fought election, Mamata also rose up to the occasion and exhibited a strong resolve to fight Modi-Shah duo against all odds. Interestingly, West Bengal results also show that this is the first time a clear evidence of an electoral backlash to polarisation has emerged.

Even as this crucial battle to reclaim Democracy has now ended in Mamata’s favour, India needs to focus not on election results or political parties but on pooling in all its resources in helping its people fight COVID. 

Dumbfounded and numb. That’s what we are in this moment as we watch funeral pyres burning. While our governments have failed us, most of us are volunteering and doing our bit to help each other — to help a collective population get through this horror, together. Human conscience and humanity are in full display even as we struggle to line up the bodies of our loved ones at the graveyards. 

What this also shows us is that India needs leadership that has a Vision and looks at long-term planning and solutions. Crisis leadership is different and it is time for India to realise this reality and choose leaders carefully, the next time we vote.

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