Mission Bengal: Kolkata, town the place centuries and cultures intersect, is the epicentre of an epic battle


Joyanti Sen, an 82-year-old ladies’s rights activist in south Kolkata, remembers what she calls the final 5 “dreadful years” of the Left Entrance rule in West Bengal. “If the primary 5 years had been their greatest, the final 5 had been a complete catastrophe,” she says in regards to the Left reign that lasted from 1977 to 2011, including that the rule of legislation gave strategy to “dealer raj” on the finish. “Even if you happen to needed to get some minor restore carried out at residence, you needed to pay a lower (bribe) to get together merchants.” It’s a cost the opposition now ranges on the ruling Trinamool Congress.

Sen says that Kolkata, beneath Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee, might have had a tough time throughout her first stint in 2011 as there was a way that legislation and order was not a lot beneath her management, “however she was mature in her second time period and town has been largely peaceable regardless of excessive incidence of violence in different components of Bengal. Town is protected. We have now high quality faculties and schools. Fundamental facilities attain our doorstep.

What else can one ask from a chief minister?” asks Sen. The ruling events have modified; and so have the political graffiti. Earlier, daring and shiny political slogans had been splashed on the partitions whereas larger-than-life footage of political leaders had been uncommon. For example, Emergency noticed these traces screaming from the partitions: “Dilli theke elo gai, sange bachhur CPI (From Delhi comes a cow, carrying calf CPI).” Congress’s election image was a cow and a calf, and CPI was its ally. So much has modified in Kolkata after 2011 when the Trinamool stormed to energy with Mamata on the helm. The graffiti gave strategy to big posters and cut-outs of leaders, and political messages made approach for captions in small fonts alongside images. Now, each nook of Kolkata is festooned with big footage of Mamata with the caption: Bangla Nijer Meyeke Chai (Bengal needs its personal daughter), underlining its allegation that BJP is an outsider. Metropolis of Pleasure, the place the outdated meets the brand new, the place centuries intersect and coexist, is in the midst of a frenzied Mamata-versus-Modi faceoff.

Town has been TMC’s citadel since 2011. All 11 Vidhan Sabha seats in North and South Kolkata have been gained by the TMC. And that’s no shock — for TMC’s help base emerged from city centres after which unfold to the hinterland. Because the ruling get together that patronises the Kolkata intelligentsia, it has immense visibility and cultural cache within the capital metropolis. On this regard, BJP has a variety of catching as much as do. BJP’s voters within the state are predominantly the decrease center class in city areas and rural inhabitants.

This time, additionally it is concentrating on the peripheral city areas of south Bengal. All of the events are concentrating on campaigning exterior Kolkata because the 11 seats within the metropolis is not going to decide the future of Bengal the place the meeting has 294 seats. From the times of the Left rule, the predominant political ideology of the state has been for essentially the most half anti-Centre. The BJP is highlighting how the TMC has denied the folks central authorities schemes that might have made a distinction of their lives.

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“Come what might, this time I’ll vote for change,” says Rashbehari, who runs a transport enterprise in Salt Lake. Madan Mitra, TMC’s candidate from Kamarhati, says the one factor that has modified in electioneering with the entry of BJP is the rift it’s attempting to engineer between Bengali and non-Bengali residents. “However they won’t succeed,” says Mitra. “Be it Marwaris, Bengalis or Gujaratis, they’ll all vote for us.”

Agrees TMC’s Rajya Sabha MP Derek O’Brien “It doesn’t matter in case you are a D’Souza or a Roychowdhury or a Haq. We take care of all and all vote for us.” There are pockets in Kolkata which have a large inhabitants of non-Bengali audio system — space adjoining Howrah station, Burrabazar. “Merely addressing the Bengali audio system will do a celebration no good. For those who constantly chant the Bengali mantra, you can be misunderstood there,” says Samir Ok Das, professor of political science, College of Kolkata. Equally, chanting Chandi path may create confusion amongst outdated loyal teams, he provides. Jamai-shashti noticed on the sixth day of the month of Jyestha — the second month of Bengali calendar — is when the son-in-law is indulged by the household of the bride.

BJP supporters throughout an election rally in Kolkata

BJP supporters throughout an election rally in Kolkata

Formal invitations are despatched out and luxurious meals are ready for him. Now this pageant that adores the person and welcomes the outsider has develop into a marketing campaign technique. In Kolkata, a kaleidoscope of a number of cultures, many Trinamool MLAs are organising jamai-shashti for the less-privileged “sons-in-law” of their constituencies. The ritual stays the identical: invitations are despatched out and meals are ready at a group degree. Big pandals are arrange the place folks break bread with their leaders. A chew of ilish, they hope, as at all times, can work wonders. “It’s our particular strategy to join with our folks,” says Madan Mitra. Whereas massive rallies and campaigns are at all times a speaking level, such quiet outreach programmes can construct essential reference to the citizens. “These efforts earn loyalty and following. Kolkata sees a variety of such occasions by native leaders,” says Das.

A wall with Trinamool graffiti in Kashipur

A wall with Trinamool graffiti in Kashipur

Will the BJP, which is a comparatively new entrant in Bengal’s political area, have an obstacle? “By way of these native rituals and language, clearly, TMC has a bonus however no single election technique can repay in Kolkata which is really cosmopolitan and the place a number of cultures coexist cheek by jowl,” says Das. Some political commentators really feel {that a} chunk of the middle-class now worries about sharing assets and shrinking job alternatives with “outsiders”. “Whereas the TMC has carried out a variety of good for the poor by providing free schemes, it has additionally created refugees. We are going to vote for a celebration that talks about our rights,” says Nisha Agarwal, a resident of New City.

There are residents who additionally really feel that not one of the events has carried out sufficient for Kolkata per se. Even the ruling get together’s Didi ke Bolo outreach didn’t lower a lot ice with the citizens. Whereas the BJP struggles to emerge as a celebration with a powerful Bengali id, the TMC tries to strengthen the picture that Didi is the daughter they ought to decide on. Will the folks vote for BJP’s Sonar Bangla or TMC’s daughter of the soil? The sport is on.

TMC Set for a Third-term Win: Derek O’Brien


Trinamool’s Rajya Sabha MP Derek O’Brien says the get together will return to energy in Bengal. Edited excerpts:

As per the Election Fee, there is no such thing as a proof of a deliberate assault on Mamata. How did it come to that?

Solely I do know the details. From the DGP to the constable, everybody comes beneath the EC. We requested the EC the identical query and the identical morning the DGP after which the ADG had been transferred. The buck has to cease with the EC. All we hope for is a impartial, free and honest election.

What number of seats do you suppose the TMC will win?

That you need to ask a psephologist. All I can let you know is that Mamata Banerjee can be sworn in because the chief minister for a 3rd time in Could 2021. Additionally, lots of the last-minute BJP joinees will lose their seats and the Union minister (Babul Supriyo) who has now been relegated to battle an MLA election can even lose.

Why are so many TMC leaders becoming a member of the BJP?

Let’s speak about Suvendu Adhikari. He was a minister for 9 years and after getting all the things he’s now towards Mamata. These are traitors, so it’s good riddance. The joke is: For those who decelerate your automotive close to the BJP workplace at Hastings, they’ll take you in and make you be a part of the BJP.

What about BJP’s costs that they’ve misplaced many karyakartas since 2019?

Who’s making these costs? Modi and Shah? Ought to I begin speaking about 2002? They’ve blood on their palms. They’re speaking about karyakartas when they’re those heading essentially the most damaging, divisive political get together. Somebody dies of Covid, they’ll say he’s a BJP employee. Political violence has come down in Bengal. Why don’t they give the impression of being within the mirror, why don’t they inform Ajay Bisht to run Uttar Pradesh?

What do you need to say to BJP’s costs of appeasement of a selected group?

All that is BJP propaganda. Speak to us about roads, jobs, IT sector, employment, MSMEs, talent growth, ease of doing enterprise and employment price. What did Modi say? Give me 50 days and I’ll repair the nation. However they need to distract as they will’t speak about good governance.

Don’t you suppose a triangular battle will damage the TMC?
This time we are going to get greater than 45% votes in Bengal. Modi-Shah are coming right here and making massive guarantees however they don’t perceive Bengal. They’re a vacationer gang. All these Union ministers are coming right here throughout ballot season asking for votes. Don’t they’ve work in Delhi?

How do you see the Nandigram battle between Mamata versus Suvendu Adhikari?

It’s very straightforward to make claims so let’s wait until Could 2 then we may have doodh ka doodh, paani ka paani.

How do you see the Nandigram battle between Mamata versus Suvendu Adhikari?

It’s very straightforward to make claims so let’s wait until Could 2 then we may have doodh ka doodh, paani ka paani.


We Will Win 200-220 Seats: Kailash Vijayvargiya


BJP nationwide common secretary and West Bengal in-charge Kailash Vijayvargiya speaks in regards to the get together’s technique. Edited excerpts:

Do you suppose a damage tigress is extra ferocious, as Mamata claims?

There isn’t a doubt that this sherni is extra khoonkhar (dreadful) now. I’m shocked {that a} get together whose males have killed greater than 300 of our karyakarta within the final six years, once I was given the accountability of West Bengal, is saying this. For the reason that Lok Sabha elections, we’ve misplaced 130 employees. Yeh toh aisi sherni hai jo maarne ke baad paani bhi nahi maangi hai (she is a tigress who doesn’t even ask for water after killing her prey).

TMC says BJP’s palms are stained with the blood of 2002.

The decision is out on the 2002 episode. Justice has been delivered; all have gotten a clear chit, so why carry it now? I assumed a number of the TMC males had been sensible however they’ve all misplaced it. I assumed Derek O’Brien had some gray matter however now I do know that he’s a idiot to say all this.

There’s a feeling that Mamata in a wheelchair may get the get together extra votes.

There’s a distinction between vishvasneeyata and naatkiyata (credibility and theatrics). Possibly she is going to get some sympathy however the get together ought to first clarify the sequence of occasions: how can the CM be ‘attacked’? At first the chief secretary and the collector mentioned one factor solely to backtrack later. They need to not conceal the reality. Everybody needs to know the reality behind the ‘assault’. Now the get together and their methods stand uncovered.

Do you are feeling the BJP continues to be forward in Bengal?

What number of seats do you suppose the get together is successful? We are going to simply win 200-220 seats.

What makes you are feeling so assured?

As a result of persons are fed up with Didi and TMC goondas’ dadagiri, corruption, nepotism, cut-money tradition, appeasement and misrule.

TMC leaders are saying Amit Shah didn’t go to a rally in Jhargram because it didn’t have a superb crowd. Your remark.

After the Lok Sabha polls, TMC grew to become comatose and Derek O’Brien’s Twitter account was inactive for 15 days; this time he must stay silent for greater than a month. They may lose their face and the st ate for positive.

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