Prime Minister Narendra Modi, at a rally in West Bengal’s Sreerampur, said that “40 TMC MLAs are in touch” with him and they will desert Mamata Banerjee’s party “once the BJP wins the election” on 23 May.
ThePrint asks – Modi ‘in touch’ with 40 TMC MLAs in Bengal: Election boast or open threat of horse-trading?
TMC members realise their party is sinking and are jumping ships
State executive member, West Bengal BJP
The ground has slipped from under Mamata Banerjee’s feet.
Hence, it is the TMC leaders who have been in touch with the BJP at various levels. They are all set to jump ships and not the other way around. The elected representatives of the party have seen the writings on the wall.
The people of Bengal have rejected the TMC en masse. Which is why in the first four phases of voting, the TMC resorted to every kind of violence – including rigging, booth capturing and intimidation – to subvert the voice of the people.
The elected representatives are beginning to see this reality and know they are on a sinking ship, and see no other alternative.
Mamata Banerjee, realising this, has unleashed her goons. As the election progresses, she seems to be getting more and more rattled. On many occasions, her rallies have seen a low turnout, and that is why she is forced to turn them into pad-yatras.
In a vibrant democracy like ours, ultimately the will of the people will prevail and BJP will do very well in West Bengal.
The Prime Minister of India threatening to poach MLAs is unforeseen
This is an open threat of horse-trading. It shows that PM Narendra Modi is very desperate now and he is willing to poach MLAs using money.
These days, Modi is travelling more to West Bengal than Gujarat. That says something. We can only congratulate him for his efforts in Bengal, but the truth is that the BJP has made no dent in the state.
He is nervous, because even the seat predictions for the BJP in the Lok Sabha elections are not as great. But his open threat in Bengal today is unethical and immoral. It defies all political conventions. His words will have zero impact on Bengal’s voters, but this kind of threat – that too from the Prime Minister of the country – is unforeseen. Modi is willing to stoop low.
One day he is calling Mamata Banerjee his friend who sends sweets and kurtas, and on another, he says he is going to poach MLAs. It is further proof of his unstable election narrative.
Mukul Roy, who crossed over from the TMC to the BJP, has hardly been able to poach anyone from the party.
Modi’s claim is a clever way to sow seeds of confusion among TMC members
Senior journalist and political analyst
Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s claim that 40 TMC MLAs are in touch with him is a clever ploy to sow the seeds of confusion among the rank and files of the TMC during elections.
It is true that BJP is working on that line, i.e., they are keen to break the ruling party by encouraging defection among the TMC MLAs. In Bengal, the BJP’s strategy has been drawn by Mukul Roy, who himself defected from the TMC and joined the BJP.
During 2011-14, when Roy was a close confidant of Mamata Banerjee and a member of the Rajya Sabha, he was instrumental in encouraging the Left and the Congress MLAs to defect to their side.
After he was interrogated by the CBI in connection with the Saradha chit fund scam it was alleged that he might have revealed a lot, and eventually, he left the TMC to join the BJP.
But the trend that was established by the TMC to engineer defection in opposition camp continued. The best example of this is Manas Bhuniya, a former PCC president and seven-time MLA from Sabang, Purba Medinipur. During the 2016 assembly election, a TMC worker was killed in his constituency and he was named among 23 accused in the FIR and first charge sheet for the murder. After that, he ‘left’ the Congress and joined the TMC. In December 2016 his name was dropped from the charge sheet. Then he became a Rajya Sabha member from the TMC and his wife was elected from Sabang in a by-election on a TMC ticket.
Now, the BJP is trying to come up as the main challenger of the TMC. The threat of causing defection in the TMC should not be taken as a half-hearted jest. The BJP’s calculation is based on the hope that they would be able to hold on to power at the Centre and also win a handful of seats in Bengal. If that happens, then they would actively encourage horse-trading in their attempt to break the TMC.
If BJP wants to overthrow TMC regime in Bengal, it should wait till 2021 election
Contributing editor, ThePrint
The BJP under Narendra Modi-Amit Shah has been relentlessly poaching elected representatives and unelected leaders from other parties. It refuses to give lip-service to morality when attempting to steal people’s mandate or have the Raj Bhawan give preference to the BJP in government formation. We have seen the BJP attempt this in Manipur, Arunachal Pradesh, Goa and Karnataka.
Even with these low standards of morality, it is a new low for the BJP that Prime Minister Narendra Modi is openly threatening to steal the mandate of the West Bengal assembly. In the 2016 assembly election, the Trinamool Congress won a whopping 211 of the 294 seats. These seats were won mostly in the name of Didi, TMC matriarch Mamata Banerjee. For the Prime Minister to openly say that 40 TMC MLAs are in touch with the BJP is to disrespect the people’s mandate in 2016, given for a full five-year term.
Such open disregard for democracy by the Prime Minister himself is anything but prime ministerial. These 40 MLAs wouldn’t be ‘in touch’ with the BJP, if indeed they are, had they not felt encouraged by the Modi-Shah party. Such encouragement, publicly made as an election boast, amounts to open horse-trading. If the BJP seeks to overthrow the TMC regime in West Bengal, it should wait till the 2021 assembly election and directly seek the people’s mandate. What’s the crying hurry?
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