India is in real trouble facing the COVID tsunami in many parts of the country and anti-Modi sentiment is in no doubt, it is all because of Modi. If the sentiment on ground is any indication, though fuelled by anti-Modi media of course, every complaining India will tell you – when Modi was supposed to plan for the exigency of COVID’s second wave, he was busy planning elections in various parts – and eyeing for forming BJP or BJP led governments there, in order to fortify his plans and strategies for 2024 and beyond.
Is there any truth in that? The answer is not so easy.
India’s mismanagement of COVID crisis is topic for another day. But unarguably, the BJP, Modi and Shah had their eyes set on West Bengal. The BJP, well before the elections were announced on 26 February 2021, had started working in West Bengal in the second half of 2020. For election 2021 commencing 27 March, Amit Shah had visited Kolkata on a two day visit on November 5. Many by him and Narendra Modi followed.
There was a real sense of potential victory for the BJP. The claims of the BJP claiming more than 200 seats in a 292 house were made and looked credible to many.
Then the clubhouse audio confessions of Prashant Kishore, Mamta Banerjee’s chief strategist practically conceded the government to the BJP on April 10.
And the reality of 2 May is completely opposite, how?
Mamta outsmarted everyone. When Modi rose to power on the back of clever use of social media in 2014, it opened the door for others to do the same, or manipulate the use to suit their needs. Mamta did just that. When her back was against the wall, she had a broken foot, suddenly became a devout Hindu visiting temples (hearing Jai Shri Ram slogans of the BJP), announced monthly wages for Maulvis, played the Bangladeshi card, leaving no stones unturned,
But that was only half of what Mamta managed on 2 May. The other half of it was delivered to Mamta by the overconfident BJP leadership.
The BJP is suffering from the malaise called – the BIG Two. That is Modi and Shah who are national assets of the party. Strategists of the BJP thought flaunting the BIG two would get them regional votes. How much more foolish could they be?
Personally I believe, like former Australian Prime Minister was accused of ‘being a control freak’ trying to micromanage everything himself, the BIG Two (along with their advisors) endeavoured to micromanage West Bengal from the centre. Despite there being faces of Rupa Ganguly, Mithun Chakraborty, and Babul Supriyo and the former cricketer Sourav Ganguly (who finally did not join the BJP), the party lacked a strategy to balance their own assets and the stalwarts of the West Bengal politics, former TMC leaders who had joined the party sensing the doom of the Mamta government.
The biggest miscalculation on the part of BJP was their decision not to install a local face, to face off Mamta Banerjee. In that context, the visits of Modi and Shah created an artificial layer of “central interference and remote controlling of the region” giving the local stakeholders an image of powerlessness and thus inability to fulfil any promises they make to win the grassroots votes.
‘Horse trading’ and political ‘fixes’ are part and parcel of the game, but the BJP confident of their chances, decided to keep the voters guessing who their CM would be after elections. It is this single inability of the party leadership which has cost the party 2021 election.