Amit Kushari IAS (Retd)
BJP indeed had a stunning victory in Tripura where it captured more than 60% of the Assembly seats, although it had zero representation earlier. The main reason for this was that the major opposition, Congress completely collapsed and could not get a single seat. The entire opposition space was filled up by the new entrant, BJP, which promised to end the three decade old Left rule. People were tired of the Left although the Left Government led by Manik Sarkar was known to be an honest Government. Perhaps lack of development was a cause of this disillusionment and people wanted a combination of honesty and development, both. The Left, however, made a heroic attempt to retain its bastion. Despite Congress falling flat, the Left front suffered a drop of only 6 percent in their votes. It fell from 51 percent to 45 percent. If Congress had fought the elections in alliance with the Trinamool Congress, the results would have been much different. All the disillusioned voters would not have moved to BJP and some would have still voted for the Congress alliance as a viable alternative. In that case BJP would not have a clean sweep. BJP did not get any victory in the other states of Nagaland and Meghalaya. They won a couple of seats, only. Their tribal allies did well and formed the Government keeping out the Congress, the biggest party in Meghalaya. We had witnessed similar happenings in two other small states of Goa and Manipur last year. Congress was well placed in both Goa and Manipur but could not form the government because it was not in power in the Centre. People of smaller states, especially the tribal states prefer to be on the right side of the Central Government because they desperately need funds from the Central Government for development. Besides, it is a known secret that a lot of horse trading has to be done to form a Government in a small state and the party which rules in the centre has more money power usually. So it is wrong to say that BJP has captured the North East. A better conclusion is that BJP has become strong in Assam and Tripura.
The first fallout of the Tripura victory was that BJP workers bulldozed the statue of Lenin at Belonia in Tripura. This was condemned by the PM and the Central Government leaders, but the damage to the social fabric had already been done. Many statues were desecrated throughout India. BJP enthusiasts desecrated Ambedkar and Periyar statues in UP and TamilNadu. A Gandhi statue was also damaged in Kerala. The Father of the nation lost his spectacles due to the hooliganism unleashed. The Marxists took revenge in Bengal where the Left still gets 28 percent of votes. They attacked the statue of Shyama Prashad Mukherjee who was a big leader of the Hindu Mahasabha and a great leader of erstwhile Bengal. When Jinnah wanted the whole of Bengal for Pakistan, because Bengal had a slender 52 percent Muslim majority, Shyama Prasad and other leaders like Sarat Chandra Bose tried their best to retain the western part of Bengal in India so that Bengali Hindus do not become totally homeless like the Sindhi, Pathan and Baluch Hindus, and later in history, like the Kashmiri Hindus.
The Bengal Government is trying to repair the statue as early as possible so that the sentiments are not hurt.
People are asking …. what could be the possible impact of BJP’s Tripura victory on other eastern states like Bengal and Orissa. Will these states also turn saffron? There are more than a dozen BJP MLAs in Odisha assembly and 3 BJP MLAs in Bengal. When the BJP leader Ram Madhav was asked this question, he smiled and said,” Unki bhi baari aa jaegi.”
BJP’s entry into Bengal might be a very tough question. Bengal has a 30 percent Muslim population for whom BJP is a big No No. Even for divorced women who got some relief from the NDA Government, they are unlikely to vote for BJP. A few rebellious women may vote against the wishes of the family members but their numbers may not be large. The atmosphere in Muslim families is usually very hostile towards BJP as it is perceived as an enemy of Muslims. To understand the situation in Bengal let us consider a random sample of 100 voters….70 of them would be Hindus and 30 Muslims. So far the scenario was like this –out of the 30 Muslims, 20 voted for TMC and 10 for CPM. For the Hindus 25 voted for TMC, 15 for BJP, 10 for Congress and 20 for Left. TMC got a total of 45 out of 100 votes. 45 percent votes pushed up TMC and helped it to get a 70 percent seat share in the Bengal assembly. In the new scenario how many Hindus are likely to switch over to BJP? The 25 TMC supporters are unlikely to change their loyalty because TMC is the ruling party and they get a lot of benefits from the ruling party including Mamata Bannerjee’s all round visible development programmes. Out of the 20 people who voted for the CPM earlier a few, about 6 or 7, may switch over to BJP, especially if they are upper caste Hindus. (Upper caste Hindus everywhere have a soft corner for the BJP). The CPM strength may go down to 14 and BJP’S strength may go up to 15 + 06 =21. The Congress will also lose 3or 4 votes to BJP, decreasing the Congress strength to 6 and increasing the BJP strength to 21+4 =25. This is the Hindu tally. Among the Muslims the 10 who voted for CPM earlier will be a divided lot because CPM is in shambles now. At least half of them will shift to TMC increasing the TMC tally to 20+5=25 since no one from this group will shift to BJP.
So in the total tally 25 Hindus and 25 Muslims will vote for TMC i.e. 50 percent of the total vote. The remaining 50 percent will vote for BJP 25 percent, Congress 6percent and 19 percent CPM. The difference between the TMC and the BJP will be a huge margin of 25 percent and this will enable the Trinamool to capture 80 percent of the Bengal Assembly seats. So for the BJP to capture Bengal is still a day dream. Kolkata duur ast, bahut bahut duur ast.
(The author is former Financial Commissioner, Feedback to the writer at 09748635185 or email@example.com)
Amit Kushari IAS (Retd)