Prime Minister Narendra Modi arrived in West Bengal on Saturday (45 minutes before schedule) for a two-day visit. He will meet state Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee besides holding some other important meetings. [PM Modi to inaugurate social security schemes in Kolkata]
Modi's visit a significant turn in his relation with Mamata
This visit of Modi is significant for it marks a turn in the course of his relation with the maverick chief minister, who had attacked him in harsh terms ahead of last year's Lok Sabha election and also refused to meet him for a considerable period of time.
BJP-Trinamool war is over, at least in the open
The BJP-Trinamool war in the public that went on for a long period is now over. A ceasefire has been declared and it is the BJP which has lost more in this battle and not Banerjee, unlike what many had expected.
Now, the ruling party at the Centre is focusing more on a cooperative competition with the TMC rather than an open confrontation for it did not pay off, as the recent civic election results have shown.
Top leaderships' co-operative competition
The strategy is clear now: The top leadership of both parties will cooperate to help each other in issues like passage of bills in the Upper House and assist in Bengal's development even as the cadre and supporters will engage in pitch battles in the open. For Mamata Banerjee also, a co-operative strategy is key for her own image and the progress of her state ahead of the next year's assembly election.
The same strategy was followed by the Congress and Trinamool
The same strategy was followed by the Congress and TMC in the past to a point when the local leaders of the former party strongly opposed the two-way strategy.
BJP's Plan A of attacking Mamata has failed
In case of the BJP and its top leader Modi, the co-operation is a necessity if it has to grow as a force in Bengal. The saffron party's Plan A to corner Mamata Banerjee by making public gestures over issues like Saradha and Burdwan blast has failed. The BJP shouted "Bhaag Mamata Bhaag" on the streets of Kolkata but failed to win a single seat in the civic polls outside Kolkata.
Modi's double benefit theory gained relevance after BJP's attacking ploy failed
Even in the state capital, its performance was below par. The impressive vote-share that was recorded during the Lok Sabha election dipped, proving that the BJP's honeymoon period in the state was short-lived.
Plan B is hence to co-operate and reach out to the people
Modi, therefore, had to come up with a Plan B to counter the Mamata factor in Bengal ahead of the next assembly election which is just a year away.
This plan had to speak about co-operation and convey the message to the aam Bengalis that the Centre is concerned about their well-being. Modi had to prove what he had said in a rally in Kolkata before the general election last year, i.e., Bengal will be benefitted by CM Mamata Banerjee in the state and PM Narendra Modi at the Centre. The ‘double benefit theory' is what the BJP is trying to execute now.
Why did BJP waste precious time in attacking Mamata?
But why did the party then lose the precious time by choosing a collision course with the TMC government? It is true that Banerjee herself was in a combative mood from the word go but as the senior partner, did the central government's representatives serve any purpose by stoking the fire more?
The more the BJP's mouthpieces attacked Mamata Banerjee, the more she evolved as a wiser politician and rectified the mistakes. Is allowing the opponent the time and scope to revise itself a wise ploy in the battle of politics?
The more BJP attacked her, the more stronger Mamata grew
Mamata Banerjee's efforts in turning more to the social media, taking an initiative to settle the land issue in Bangladesh and visiting that country, asking for a CBI probe in the Ranaghat nun rape case were examples of her fast turnaround in the psychological warfare with the BJP. The BJP clearly ran out of ammunition after the initial burst and now it has taken a retreat, thanks to the political compulsion in the Rajya Sabha.
Now it's simple politics of reciprocity?
When one sees the slowing down investigation in Saradha chit fund scam, the almost forgotten Burdwan blast and the decision not to send central forces to the recent civic polls in the state despite the high level of violence, it gets clear that the aggression has died down after the poll debacle.
It will be interesting to see how Modi resurrects the BJP's fortunes in the state where it has some serious problems with the basic political requirements: leadership, ideology and organisation.
Afterall, the BJP will need these three weapons if it has to overthrow Mamata from the heart of Bengal.