The Exchanges of Previous Week
It all started last week with comments by Priyanka Gandhi on Narendra Modi and raising question on the Gujarat Model. BJP was quick to hit back by asking Priyanka Gandhi to explain the Vadra Model of development, a clear jibe at the alleged apocalyptic increase in the wealth of Robert Vadra over the last few years. BJP went one step further and released a video on Robert Vadra.
If the 24th April road-show of Modi had made Congress edgy and when asked, Manmohan Singh had tried hard enough to state that there is no Modi wave in the country, in a matter of couple of days since then BJP ended up playing the masterstroke by inducting the step-brother of Manmohan Singh into to the party leaving Congress red faced. The entry of Daljit Singh Kohli into BJP could not have happened at a worse time for Congress.
Meanwhile Modi continued his attack on the Gandhi family and directly blamed Sonia Gandhi and Rahul Gandhi for ruining the country through scams and mismanagement of the government. He directly blamed the Gandhis for making false promises of employment generation to the youth.
An All-out Attack on Mamata
Yet all this was more or less predictable and has been happening for quite some time now. But for the BJP supporters and especially of that of Bengal, the icing on the cake was the direct frontal attack by Modi on none other than Mamata Banerjee.
In his scathing attack on the Chief Minister of Bengal, Narendra Modi blamed her for doing more harm to Bengal in her 35 month tenure than what even the Left Front did to Bengal in the whole of 35 years. Modi was unabashed in his criticism and questioned as to why the Bengal Government considers people of Bihar and Odisha as outsiders even while their faces brighten when they see the Bangladeshis entering into the state illegally.
Modi squarely blamed Mamata Banerjee and other political parties for resorting to vote bank politics and for that allowing the unabashed entry of Bangladeshis into India and stated in clear terms that after 16th of May, i.e. the day of the declaration of the results, he would make sure that all the Bangladeshis are packed off to Bangladesh again. He stated that he would not allow political parties to play vote bank politics anymore and destroy India.
If Modi's remarks were one part of the story, the other part was invariably the massive support with which it was greeted by the huge audience. The unabated entry of Bangladeshis into India and the resultant demographic transition that is happening in several parts of Bengal resulting in major conflicts and increase in smuggling business are real poll issues in Bengal.
For long, successive governments of Bengal have ignored these issues even though their impacts were being felt. However, with Modi's direct warnings and the massive popular support it is getting from the increasing base of BJP supporters in Bengal, other parties may now be forced to take a stand. The usual rhetoric of secularism may not hold good anymore to justify the entry of large number of illegal immigrants into states like Bengal.
Has Modi's Attacks Rattled TMC?
Modi also accused Mamata Banerjee of shielding the perpetrators of the Saradha Chit Fund Scam. For Mamata Banerjee and her party, it has been quite some time since anyone had attacked them with such brutal confidence. A visibly nervous TMC was forced to go into a huddle and made the usual rhetoric of Godhra to counter Modi.
However it is for sure that deep inside, Mamata Banerjee and her party is now feeling the heat of a rising BJP which has caught the imagination of the youth of Bengal. After near decimation of Left Front in 2011, if she had expected an unchallenged stint in Bengal for decades to come, then her illusion seems to be getting over.
Does Modi No More Need Mamata?
The confidence with which Modi criticised Mamata Banerjee and ripped apart her tenure's policy mistakes, it is for sure that Modi is already confident that in the final number game of this election, numbers are in his favour and he may not need Mamata's support. Moreover, his scathing criticism of TMC has given so much fillip to the party in Bengal, that this election in Bengal is increasingly being seen as a one to one between TMC and BJP with CPM and Congress nowhere in the scene.
The general discontent in Bengal against the ruling TMC regime is pretty high. However the biggest problem for people was the lack of an alternative with CPM already in disarray and Congress never a preferred choice. The unexpected phoenix like rise of BJP in Bengal riding on the Modi wave has given a new option to the Bengal voters to ponder about.
The Future- Prospective but Challenging
Even if BJP wins around 5-6 seats in Bengal this time, and give tough fight in another 10 seats, it would be a great start for the party towards its dream to emerge as the largest opposition party in Bengal in the 2016 assembly election and striving for power by 2021.
With BJP showing similar surge in its fortune in Odisha as well, it now seems that the Modi wave is actually fulfilling the party's dream of having a strong presence in the eastern parts of the country. However the part would have to make sure that is wave is leveraged in the right manner to consolidate the organisational presence of the party in the states.