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Why BJP failed in West Bengal & what it can do now

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In the question of regional sentiment, West Bengal and Tamil Nadu are different than other states of India. Bengali and Tamil sub-nationalism is very strong in these two states. BJP ignored that vital point and thus a non-performing and corrupt incumbent TMC party could win the recent Assembly election in West Bengal by playing ‘Bengali card’ in a big way. Modi-Shah did not know that a good proportion of Hindu Bengali of West Bengal would prefer to align with Muslim Bengali of Bangladesh than with Hindus of Bihar and UP.

Too many visits of Modi-Shah to West Bengal before Assembly election 2021 have spoiled the broth for BJP in the state. Everything was controlled by Central BJP leadership. The local leadership of the state was visibly non-existent. There was no Bengali face to lead BJP in the state. This wounded the sentiment of many among pro-BJP Bengali community and they leaned towards TMC while voting.

Before 2019 Lok Sabha election, Sri Mukul Roy (National Vice President of BJP from West Bengal) was doing all ground works in the state and he was given great amount of liberty also. Moreover, Lok Sabha election did not call for any ‘Bengali face’ from West Bengal. These were the reasons for BJP’s success in 2019 Lok Sabha election in West Bengal. But Assembly election and that too against Mamata Banerjee centric TMC, required a popular and charismatic Bengali face of BJP which was not there.

The defection of leaders from TMC to BJP before election and most getting tickets to fight election did not go well with a large group of Bengali voters. This also denied the old BJP local leaders the opportunity to get party ticket. It was surprising that between May 2019 and April 2021, BJP could not groom 294 MLA candidates as some sitting BJP MPs of West Bengal were brought to fight Assembly election. This was ridiculous.  

BJP central leadership failed to aggressively pursue Sardha financial scandal case, Narada bribery case, and Rose Valley financial case in recent past years. It also could not make a good case against the TMC led state government on presence of Bangladeshi terrorist groups in West Bengal and smuggling of cow, coal, sand and wheat to Bangladesh. These failures led to the loss of credibility of BJP. Instead of fighting TMC politically, BJP tried to break TMC and that was a stupid effort.

In 2019, Lok Sabha election BJP got 42% of vote share against 44% of TMC. But, in 2021 Assembly election, BJP lost 4% of its vote share which got added to TMC’s share. Thus BJP got 38% of vote and TMC got 48% of vote. For all practical purpose, that loss of 4% of BJP’s vote share was due to increased Bengali sub-nationalism among many Bengali Hindu voters. So, BJP first lost 4% from its original vote share and also could not attract any new Hindu Bengali voters. 

BJP may like it or not, but “Ram” has been rejected by a large group of common Hindu Bengali voters. Tags of vegan food and Ram were not acceptable to a big group of Hindu Bengali of West Bengal.  

If BJP wants to do good in future, it has to do the following things:

  1. Project one leader as BJP’s CM candidate for 2026 Assembly election.
  2. Give more visible decision making power to state leadership.
  3. Discourage defection of leaders from other parties to BJP for tickets.
  4. Start grooming 42 PM candidates for 2024 Lok Sabha election.
  5. Start grooming 294 MLA candidates for 2026 Assembly election.
  6. Start dissemination of information across the state about the failures of state government in different fields by creating own media system and communication channels.
  7. Stop participating in popular TV talk show and debate.
  8. Devote more attention in silent ground works.
  9. Arrange weekly Press Meet to put across Party’s point of view on different important issues of the state.
  10. Stop promoting ‘Jai Sri Ram’ and ‘vegan food’. Instead popularize slogan like “Jai Durga, Jai Kaali; Khao Re Paatha, Baajao Re Taali” (hail goddess Durga, hail goddess Kaali; eat mutton of he-goat, and clap hands cheerfully).

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