Nabanna Abhijan

BJP's aggression in Opposition-ruled states follows PM Modi's directive?

So stern was the message that originated from Prime Minister Narendra Modi that state BJP leaders decided to hit the streets of Kolkata on September 13, in a re-run of their agitation two years ago

BJP's aggression in Opposition-ruled states follows PM Modi's directive?
Kolkata police shelling tear gas on BJP workers

New Delhi: More than a month ago, West Bengal BJP leaders were told by Union Home Minister Amit Shah that they need to stop rushing to complain against each other.

Instead, they must display their strength on the streets against Trinamool Congress leader and Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee on the issue of corruption that has come to the fore following raids by Central agencies on key aides close to her.

So stern was the message that originated from Prime Minister Narendra Modi that state BJP leaders decided to hit the streets of Kolkata on September 13, in a re-run of their agitation two years ago.

So much so, that hundreds of BJP supporters and police personnel were locked in pitched battles at different parts of Kolkata and Howrah as they tried to march towards Nabanna, the state secretariat, as a show of indignation over the alleged scams and corruption involving the Trinamool functionaries.

Warring BJP leaders were for once seen joining hands to display their tactics against Mamata who directed the police to firmly put down any show of strength.

Several BJP leaders, including the leader of Opposition Suvendu Adhikari, MP Locket Chatterjee, state president Sukanta Majumdar and former state president Rahul Sinha were arrested.

After ordering a crackdown, Mamata made it a point to be away from Kolkata on an administrative tour on the day. As a consequence, BJP workers who attempted to reach Kolkata from North and South Bengal were stopped by police even as BJP leaders cried hoarse over her "undemocratic methods" to thwart an opposition protest.

The violence saw a police vehicle being set ablaze in the presence of policemen and several BJP supporters and policemen injured in the melee. The BJP claimed 200 of its supporters were injured due to police "highhandedness" and 50 of them were admitted to hospitals. 

Police said 27 of its men were injured in the violence. Traffic in the east and central Kolkata was paralysed due to the trouble.

Of course, Mamata Banerjee described the BJP protest against her as a deflated balloon, telling her cadres “no need to give importance to it.” However, Bengal BJP leaders expressed satisfaction that they had managed a show of strength that was comparable to a similar BJP protest in 2020,  which took place after the party had raised its Lok Sabha seat tally to 18 from just two in 2014.

They felt that the central BJP leaders would be happy that their directive had been followed to revitalise the rank and file against the ruling party in Bengal.

The matter also reached the Calcutta High Court, which sought a report from the West Bengal Home Secretary over the allegation that BJP supporters were forcibly prevented from attending its 'march to Nabanna' programme. A division bench comprising Chief Justice Prakash Shrivastava and Justice R Bharadwaj also directed the state government to ensure the protection of the BJP state headquarters in Kolkata.

To date, no opposition party including the Congress and the Left have managed a show of strength against Mamata since the arrest of former Trinamool minister Partha Chatterjee and Mamata's strongman Anubrata Mondal by the central enforcement agencies.

Earlier, Modi was upset that Bengal BJP leaders were not doing enough to "expose" the top leaders of Trinamool Congress whose daring acts of sleaze had come to light following the raids on their homes by the Central Bureau of Investigation (CBI) and the Enforcement Directorate (ED) on directives from Calcutta High Court.

More than Rs 50 crores in cash were seized in the raids that also revealed a network of associates collecting money on behalf of powerful leaders close to Mamata.

Amit Shah also conveyed to Bengal BJP leaders that while the central agencies would do their job as per directives of the High Court, they would have to be on the field to convey the impact of such investigation to the people.

According to BJP insiders, Amit Shah has similarly told BJP units in the opposition-ruled states to be more active on the field against the respective governments, exposing the irregularities and wrongdoings so that momentum is built right away before the elections are due.

It is in this context that the development in Goa must also be viewed. Eight of the 11 Congress MLAs led by top leaders Digambar Kamat and Michael Lobo have joined the ruling BJP, reducing the opposition party to just three members in a House of 40. 

The mass defection, which is a repeat of what happened in 2019, comes in the middle of Rahul Gandhi's 'Bharat Jodo Yatra.'  

Recently, Amit Shah reviewed with 70 senior party leaders and Union ministers, including Smriti Irani, Dharmendra Pradhan, Piyush Goyal, Bhupendra Yadav, Anurag Thakur, Narendra Singh Tomar, Jitendra Singh and S. Jaishankar about ways to win 144 constituencies that the BJP had lost in the 2019 Lok Sabha election.

The Union ministers were told to tour each constituency and prepare reports on these seats for the 2024 parliamentary elections. They have asked to complete this work by the end of this month.