NEW DELHI: The BJP’s “Nabanno Chalo Abhiyaan” held last week is being described as a major success by both political parties as well as political analysts in West Bengal, as many feel that the Bengal unit of the BJP, which was in a “deep slumber” in the state following the defeat it faced in the 2021 Assembly elections, has woken up to act like an opposition party. Several senior leaders, cutting across party lines in Bengal, told this correspondent that the scenes that unfolded in Kolkata during the BJP’s “Nabanno Chalo Abhiyaan” would give the BJP the much-needed fresh lease of life in the state.
Several BJP leaders have also praised the efforts by its senior leadership in Bengal to make the Abhiyaan successful. A BJP district president from Bengal’s North 24 Parganas told The Sunday Guardian, “Despite the police brutality, despite the police and the Trinamool Congress making all efforts to ensure that BJP workers could not reach Kolkata for the protest rally, many even took boats and walked for kilometres to reach the venue and participate in the protest. This has assured the BJP once again that the people of Bengal are fed up with the corrupt practices of the Trinamool Congress government in the state.” The BJP’s Nabanno Chalo Abhiyaan included three protest marches—one under the leadership of state president Sukanta Mazumdar, second under Leader of Opposition in the West Bengal Assembly Suvendu Adhikari and the third was led by National Vice President Dilip Ghosh—and all these three protest rallies were supposed to culminate at the state secretariat, Nabanno, in the Howrah district. However, these marches could not reach the state secretariat as the Bengal police stopped each of these marches much ahead of the destination and BJP protesters were driven away by force, including by the use of water cannons, tear gas shells and lathi charges.
The Abhiyaan was planned by the top leadership of the BJP to hold the Mamata Banerjee-led Trinamool Congress government accountable against the plethora of corruption charges that its leaders and ministers are facing. One of the Cabinet ministers in the Mamata Banerjee government, Partha Chatterjee, has already been arrested by the Enforcement Directorate for the alleged teachers’ recruitment scam, while the party’s muscle man and district head of Birbhum, Anubrata Mandal, is also under arrest by the CBI for his alleged role in cattle smuggling. Several other leaders of the Trinamool Congress are also being investigated by the CBI and the Enforcement Directorate.
The Central leadership of the BJP was closely watching the developments unfolding in Bengal, as the senior leadership in Bengal was on test to prove its mettle in the state. Sources within the BJP said that the newly appointed in-charge of Bengal, Sunil Bansal, who is often considered as a backroom strategist for the party and has led the BJP to successful victories in Uttar Pradesh, was keeping a close watch on the protest march. Bansal earlier had met BJP workers in Bengal and had asked them to ensure that the Nabanno Chalo Abhiyaan became a “turning point” for the party in Bengal.
Some BJP leaders from Bengal that this newspaper spoke to also said that Bansal, along with the new prabhari for Bengal, and former Bihar Health Minister Mangal Pandey, had also spoken to the top leadership of the BJP in the state to ensure that the rally had a significant effect. The central BJP is trying to make efforts towards helping the BJP regain its growth trajectory in the state. The party also wants to secure at least 16 Lok Sabha seats from Bengal. The BJP had in 2019 won 18 out of the 42 Lok Sabha seats from the state.
One senior BJP functionary from Bengal told this newspaper that the BJP seemed to have become active in the state and “we hope that BJP workers who were with us before and during the last Assembly elections will come back to us soon”. “It now looks like the central leadership of the party has put back its focus in Bengal. Many of our workers had thought that the BJP in Delhi had lost interest in the state, but with the new appointments and with the appointments of the likes of Sunil Bansal, Satish Dhoondh and Mangal Pandey for Bengal, it is certain now that the party will bounce back soon. Many of our demands to the central BJP to act against the corrupt Trinamool Congress leaders also seem to have fallen in place. We hope the leaders in Delhi keep showing their interest in the state,” the senior BJP functionary said.