RSS’ ‘mixed feelings’ over BJP’s Bengal poll debacle

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Anwesha Bhaumik
Kolkata, May 4 (IANS)
The RSS wants the BJP leadership to do a ‘thorough introspection’ over the landslide victory secured by the Trinamool Congress in West Bengal and specially focus on the merit of inducting many Trinamool deserters.
A quick review by RSS leaders in West Bengal and its top leadership revealed that induction of Trinamool deserters have not worked for the BJP.
With the exception of giant killer Suvendu Adhikari, the idead of taking TMC deserters into the BJP fold has backfired, justifying TMC strategist Prashant Kishor’s repeated assertion that they joined BJP when faced with denial of TMC ticket in view of doubts over their winnability.
Suvendu justified the ‘Adhikari factor’ by his slender victory over Mamata Banerjee in Nandigram, but the TMC won 33 of the 47 seats in the Midnapore area because the battle Royale sucked in the Adhikari clan and left yawning gaps elsewhere in the region.
The RSS leadership feels the large scale induction of Trinamool deserters and nominating them as BJP candidates created rifts between the RSS-trained BJP leaders and the ‘new BJP’ inductees from Trinamool.
“There was an inevitable clash of political culture between two distinct outlooks. That did not help the party (BJP) ultimately,” said a senior RSS leader, on condition of anonymity because he was not authorised to brief the media.
He said the BJP, by inducting Trinamool defectors, failed to exploit the local level public anger against the ruling party because the very cause of anger was inducted by the BJP.
Kolkata’s Salt Lake-New Town leader Sabyasachi Dutta is a classic example.
Accused of running syndicates forcing real estate barons to purchase inferior quality building materials at inflated prices in the New Town region, Dutta suffered a humiliating defeat unbecoming of his stature as the former Salt Lake-New Town municipal boss.
“If you induct Sabyasachi Dutta and then attack syndicate culture, you risk falling between two stools. Modi, Amit Shah, Nadda all did that but the stink did not stick for obvious reasons,” said the senior RSS leader privy to the ‘chintan’ session immediately after the polls.
Barasat’s TMC MP Kakoli Ghosh Dastidar, Dutta’s bitter rival within the party, told IANS that Mamata Banerjee’s foresight in easing out the defectors came as a blessing for the party.
“The fat and flab was cut out at the right time. The muscle provided by hardcore credible loyalists remained to fight the saffron steamroller. This was a real blessing in disguise,” she told IANS.
The RSS leadership also identifies two other factors for the BJP defeat.
One, despite the success in making Hindutva and Illegal migration a real poll issue, the BJP failed to break “the faith reposed in communal amity by the Bengali bhadralok”.
“The BJP leaders got carried away by the apparent response generated by allegations of TMC’s minority appeasement. But Bengali Hindus resent the high-handedness of Urdu speaking Muslims in and around Calcutta and that most big Muslim leaders of TMC come from this community. But their bonding with Bengali Muslims remain very strong and they only partially responded to the BJP rhetoric,” the RSS leader said.
Analyst Sukhoranjan Dasgupta agrees with this observation.
“The creation of Bangladesh in 1971 undid the communal divide of Partition and Bengalis on both sides of the border realised they gain from communal harmony and social peace. The BJP’s effort to disturb that social fabric had an unsettling effect on the Bengali psyche. I love my friend Mr Sharma from UP but it cannot be at the cost of my Muslim sister Shahnaz Parvin Dolly from my ancestral district of Barisal,” Dasgupta told IANS.
He said the NRC exercise in Assam not only created a scare among Bengali Muslims but also among East Bengali Hindus, who suffered more. “Mamata succesfully projected that as an anti Bengali and not just an anti Muslim exercise.”
Second, the absence of a tall Bengali leader in BJP against a formidable Mamata Banerjee cost the saffron brigade, said the RSS leader.
“Bengali have hated the High Command culture from the days of CR Das and Subhas Bose. Mamata is a product of that anti-Delhi angst and one needed to pitch a big local leader rather than stick to the old formula of picking one from the crowd after fighting the polls with Modi and Shah as face,” he said.
“Bengalis are strong Indian nationalists but they like to see their own leader, Subhas Bose or Shyamaprasad Mukherjee,” the RSS leader said.
One of the future task for the Hindutva Brigade is to find a big Bengali leader here in West Bengal, preferably a woman because the two Ms vote (Mohila and Muslim) seems to have upset the saffron applecart.
“But the BJP-RSS male patriarchy is uneasy with strong woman leaders, which is why Sushma Swaraj could not make it to the very top despite enormous ability,” says gender specialist Pallavi Guha, author of a brilliant recent book on India’s “Me Too movement.”
Guha says Hasina at the helm in Bangladesh and Mamata at the top here is no accident and proves gender power is no empty cliché in Bengali society.
“The RSS’ Adarsh Bharatiya Nari is an ideal gharwali (homemaker), they should understand Bengalis worship Durga or Kali more fervently than Ram. And for us, Ram Mohan Roy rather than Ram is more important because he in the anchor of our social modernisation,” Guha told IANS.
“In West Bengal or Bangladesh, nobody aborts the foetus to avoid a girl child. She is welcomed as Ma Laxmi,” she said. “Even our Muslims describe girls Lokkhi Meye”.
“The BJP paid a price for under estimating Mamata,” says BJP Lok Sabha candidate Chandra Bose, a scion of the Netaji family.
“Social engineering works only to an extent. You cannot change societal values overnight however powerful and well funded your campaign,” says IPAC analyst Sayantika Bhowal. “BJP should fit into Bengal rather than try making it an UP or Gujarat.”
“Don’t be angry with Bengal for what has happened. Try understand us,” was her advice to the saffron brigade.
IPAC was Trinamool’s campaign manager and its chief Prashant Kishor has been proved dead correct over his repeated assertion that BJP won’t cross double digit. But Bhowal, who left IPAC to ‘try something else’ warns Trinamool against “wishing BJP away”.
“Don’t repeat the Left’s mistake of wishing Mamatadi away after their 2004 triumph,” was her parting advice to TMC.

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