The issue of Hindutva will be tested in Bengal’s electoral battle.


New Delhi: With the Bengal battle getting intensified, the question is whether Lord Ram will ensure victory for BJP in the state. What is also to be seen is whether TMC chief Mamata Banerjee’s “sympathy” card will cut any ice with the voters of Bengal, as she is sporting her plastered leg while addressing rallies sitting in a wheelchair.

With BJP’s Ram versus Mamata’s sympathy card, the West Bengal Assembly election has become quite interesting.

It is the issue of Lord Ram that mostly helped BJP get power in the past. It began from Uttar Pradesh. Then, the saffron party rode to power at the Centre.

Now, West Bengal is the second state where the BJP is banking on Lord Ram. In other words, the issue of Hindutva will be tested in Bengal’s electoral battle. All the BJP stalwarts such as Prime Minister Narendra Modi, Union Home Minister Amit Shah, national BJP president J.P. Nadda and UP CM Yogi Adityanath are without hesitation raising the issues of Hindutva and invoking Lord Ram. As a result of this, TMC supremo Mamta Banerjee is also leaving no stone unturned to woo the Hindu voters. Therefore, Mamata Banerjee is doing all that she never did in the past. She is visiting various temples. She is not averse to being called a Hindu and Brahmin.

There is no denying that religious issues got prominence in politics after BJP came to power in different states and at the centre. It was BJP’s “kamandal” politics that took the wind out of “Mandal” move aimed at dividing the backward and forward in the country in 1988-89. It was then that the BJP pushed its Ram Mandir issue and played the Hindu card. This resulted in BJP getting power in UP in 1991 and Kalyan Singh became the chief minister. Then came 1992 when the disputed structure in Ayodhya was demolished. BJP stalwart Atal Bihari Vajpayee formed the coalition government at the centre in 1996. His government first lasted only 13 days and then 13 months. But another government of Vajpayee in 1999 lasted its full term. The BJP was voted out of power in 2004. But in the meantime, Narendra Modi had become the chief minister of Gujarat. Then happened the Godhra incident which brought him in the spotlight. The Congress-led UPA government ruled for 10 years. But this dispensation targeted Narendra Modi and allowed its politics to revolve around what it called “secularism vs communalism”. As a result, the UPA sidelined Hindu and resorted to politics of Muslim appeasement. Meanwhile, the BJP pushed its Hindutva card and chose Modi as its leader. The idea worked for the BJP. The party got a massive majority and became the prime minister in 2014. Since then, the Hindutva continues to be a key agenda of BJP’s politics. The saffron party got success in various Hindi heartland states.

However, the BJP’s Hindutva did not create that much impact in Bihar in 2015. But the party changed its strategy in the next elections in Bihar. PM Modi took several decisions that connected his government with common people. And then the result was for everyone to see. Demontisation, GST, surgical strike, etc. were the issues which paved the way for the BJP getting power at the Centre and in UP. PM Modi’s decisions in the second term, that include abrogation of Article 370, CAA, also brought him popularity and electoral successes. Meanwhile, all the hurdles in construction of Ram Mandir were done away with. The BJP made it a big issue.

The issues of Article 370 abrogation, CAA and Ram Mandir helped BJP get power in Bihar. Now, the BJP is raising the same issues in Bengal as well. The party has pushed its Hindutva card invoking Ram. If BJP wins Bengal, then it will go ahead with the same issue in UP and other states next year. No political party has an issue as effective as BJP’s trump card “Ram” and “Hindutva” for that matter. What needs to be kept an eye on is which way the voters of Bengal go. Will it be BJP’s Ram? Or will it be Mamata Banerjee’s sympathy card?