The result of the elections in West Bengal will cause anguish in Modi but will make Mohan Bhagwat happy. This may sound intriguing to many, but those who understand the ideology of RSS will accept my submission. Modi and BJP are political entities. Their end game is to win elections, to form governments. But for the RSS, capturing power is not the ultimate goal, it is to make India a Hindu society. Their goal is to raise Hindu consciousness and make every Hindu understand that he is a proud Hindu. Mamata Banerjee reciting the Chandi Road and to call herself a Brahmin girl would certainly have rejoiced the heart of Mohan Bhagwat.
And let’s not forget that she is not the only leader to have had to prove her Hindu credentials in an election; before her, Arvind Kejriwal was heard reciting the Hanuman Chalisa and Rahul Gandhi was seen jumping from temples and showing his sacred thread. The RSS had been upset throughout that post-independence rulers struggled to project themselves as Hindus, while rulers of other religions were always outspoken about their religious identity. If the wheel of history has turned and today the leaders of other political parties are equally proud of their Hindu identity, do not hesitate to display their Hinduism, in public and during elections, so why shouldn’t RSS be happy? This is what the RSS has wanted since its creation in 1925. In this way, it has achieved its objective. Now it is BJP’s turn to worry about this paradigm shift.
The election of West Bengal is a warning signal for Modi and the BJP. The BJP has undoubtedly come a long way in Bengal: to go from being an unimportant party to securing over 80 seats in the Bengal assembly is an accomplishment. In 2016, the BJP had only three assembly seats and only 10% of the vote. He had a spectacular performance in the legislative elections of 2019 and won 18 seats with 40% of the vote. Then, the configuration of the assembly seemed more encouraging. The BJP had 121 seats in mind. It is for this reason that the BJP was very optimistic about Bengal, and why it invested all the resources and efforts of the state, in the hope of causing a major upheaval in Indian politics.
There are three things that have gone against BJP in the state.
1) From the start, the BJP was handicapped by its own politics. For ideological reasons, he does not believe in wooing Muslim voters, he does not ask them to vote. In Bengal, Muslims get 27% of the vote; some estimates put it at 30%. This means that the BJP can win if it succeeds in polarizing more than 50% of the rest of the population. The BJP has done its best to polarize Hindu voters. He did his best to project Mamata Banerjee as a Muslim leader, accusing her of Muslim appeasement and suggesting that Hindus would not be safe if she again became Chief Minister; she was called “Begum Mamata”, to allude to his Muslim bias; Voters were told she wears a hijab. Mamata Banerjee knew she had to counter this narrative in a spectacular way. Knowing that Muslims strongly supported her, she knew she had to woo Hindus and make them feel that she was not a Hindu hater as suggested by the BJP. the Chandi Road the recitation did the trick.
In this calculation, the BJP will always have a downside. The other parties will still have a substantial share of the minority votes in their pockets and the BJP has to start from scratch. This means that if other parties can dispel the idea that they only care about Muslims and woo Hindu voters as well, it may spell the end of BJP and its Hindutva policies. Because the Hindutva policy by default gives an additional advantage to anti-BJP parties. These parties will always have more Hindu votes, that is to say Muslims and part of the Hindu voters, while the BJP will have to be satisfied only by Hindu votes, and the Hindus, being in the majority, will never be so consolidated. than the minority community. . In Bengal, this is what happened.
2) In this election, in a somewhat strange logic, Mamata played the victim card despite his membership in the government and two terms as chief minister. She projected the BJP as an invading army that wanted to conquer Bengal by hook or crook. And it worked. Mamata Banerjee had every reason to feel aggrieved and victimized by the Modi government. Deployment of central forces in 8 phases very tiring, there were many visible symbols of the center interfering in the affairs of the state. The last minute transfers of his relatives by the Electoral Commission also sent the same signal. She did not mince her words in criticizing the CRPF and the CISF, and accused the Minister of the Interior Amit Shah of having abused central forces to defeat her. The murder of four people by the CISF in Sitalkuchi reinforced his argument.
As in other states, the BJP freely used central investigative agencies to target Trinamool leaders. These agencies attempted to implicate his own nephew and number two leader of the party, Abhishek Banerjee, on corruption charges. The homes of his relatives were looted. Other leaders like Madan Mitra have also been subjected to similar humiliation. The BJP had played the same trick on Sharad Pawar in Maharashtra and it had turned against him. Mamata, being a very astute politician, used it thoroughly and aroused sympathy.
3) Mamata Banerjee also played the Bengali nationalism card very well. She constantly projected BJP leaders as outsiders who know nothing about Bengal and its great tradition and culture. She and her party brilliantly communicated with the Bengali state of mind that Bengal, which has always been a torchbearer for the rest of the country, was in danger of being toppled by the rulers of Delhi and Gujarat. It was a bit like Modi playing the Gujarati card in the 2002 assembly elections. To his advantage, the BJP leadership was also shown to be ignorant of Bengali tradition. “Jai Sri Ram” is a political slogan for the BJP that has worked well in northern India, but has very little resonance in Bengal. Durga, not Ram, is the religious icon of Bengal. Durga is part of the great Bengali tradition. BJP leaders like Dilip Ghosh have said Ram’s ancestry is known but Durga’s is not; nothing more insulting to the culture of Bengal than that. When BJP leaders insulted Ram, Mamata very ably said that even Ram worshiped Durga.
West Bengal has very clearly pointed out the limits of Hindutva policy. Modi and Amit Shah may have an abundance of resources and state power, but Hindutva, to be successful outside the core of Hindi, must adapt to the local culture and assimilate into local traditions. Mamata Banerjee is undoubtedly a strong ruler, but she is part of the Bengali culture and an attack on her has become an attack on this culture, which she has become the symbol of after the demise of Jyoti Basu. The BJP, to be successful in Bengal, needed to invent a leader who personified Bengal; the abusive Dilip Ghosh is not made of this courage, in fact, he is a liability. Bengal is owned by Raja Ram Mohan Rai, Rabindra Nath Tagore, Bankim Chandra Chatterjee, Vivekanand, Ramkrishna Paramhans, Satyajit Ray, Subhash Bose, Jyoti Basu, Somnath Chatterjee. It’s easy to blame Bengal for the violence, but hard to understand the subtlety of its tradition. The BJP did not and therefore lost.
(Ashutosh is author and editor, satyahindi.com)
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