Workers are disappointed over Centre’s inaction against graft-tainted TMC leaders.
Many BJP workers and functionaries in West Bengal have gone “underground”, after being at the receiving end of the ruling Trinamool Congress’ muscle politics. Apparently, many BJP workers, who had switched over to the national party from the TMC, are having second thoughts about their decision, since the Central government and its agencies too have displayed their indifference to them by not acting against the corrupt among TMC leaders.
The Sunday Guardian spoke to multiple JP leaders, all of whom are either working at the block or district level. They said that they were unsure of the party’s performance in the upcoming 2019 elections in the state despite party president Amit Shah setting a target of winning on at least 22 out of the 42 Lok Sabha seats.
A district president who had left the TMC and joined the BJP with much fanfare but has now knowingly receded into the background said that the cadre and junior leaders were disheartened.
“Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee is running the state like a fiefdom and she has given complete freedom and protection to her cadres to do anything to stop the BJP from expanding in the state. And that means using physical force, intimidation against us, not just by her cadre but also the police. The TMC leaders, who had become ‘timid’ after Modi government came in 2014, fearing many of their scam-tainted top leaders will go to jail, now mock us and have unleashed their goons against us. They are capturing our personal property, sending messages that they will cut the legs of those who wave the BJP flag. Our top leadership either sits and relaxes in Kolkata or are seen in Delhi. It is because of this that I have unofficially resigned from the party and have told the local TMC leader that I am no more with the BJP. At least now I can do my business without the fear of police raids or physical assault,” a leader said.
With the Left almost on the verge of being wiped out from the state and the country, the BJP cadre feel that this is the right time to capitalise on the space that the Left has been forced to vacate by the people.
“However, we need a more hard-line approach here. Our top leaders give an impression that they are scared of CM Mamata and hence they mostly stay away in Delhi. We had won two seats in 2014. I can give it to you in writing that if the elections were held now, we would lose Asansol. The local workers are a disheartened lot today. No one knows what is happening. Is Kailash Vijayvargiya (the state in-charge) serious about us? He does not give the impression that he is. A lot is being written and talked about the state president being changed, but no one knows when would it happen. Has Mukul Roy been sidelined? Chandan Mitra (former BJP MP who joined the TMC recently) is not a fool. He knows that the BJP is not gaining ground in Bengal anymore. All these questions are in the minds of the local workers, but no one is answering them. In the midst of all this do you really believe a normal worker will have the nerve to stand up against TMC goons?” a senior functionary asked.
According to another leader, Amit Shah’s dream of winning 22 seats is unlikely to materialise in the near future. “Do speeches and tall statements bring voters to the booth? Do they save the BJP worker when he is being attacked by the TMC cadre? Why would any BJP worker risk his life and business for a party whose state leaders do not have the courage to work on the ground?” he asked.
The fact that the government agencies probing the Narada, Sarada, Rose Valley and other scams have failed to take strict action has emboldened the TMC leadership from the top to the bottom.
Even though CBI number 2 Rakesh Asthana had gone to Kolkata to seek a status report on the investigation being done by the agency against those who have been found to be involved in the scams and gave the agency officials a four-month deadline to complete the investigation, the local BJP leaders are not convinced that action will be taken against the TMC leaders.
“Why has the Centre woken up now? And how do we believe that the four-month deadline is not a hollow claim? Why is the Centre saving the corrupt leaders of the TMC? Everyone knows who was involved in these scams. Why has not anyone been arrested? Strong and quick action to expose the TMC is the need of the hour. Unless that happens, the TMC is here to stay for another five to 10 years at least,” a BJP functionary from North 24 Parganas said.