Union home minister Amit Shah has put his shoulder to the wheel of the Bharatiya Janata Party's campaign for the West Bengal assembly polls. From meeting people of various communities, visiting temples, having lunch with locals, to meeting Indian classical vocalist Pandit Ajoy Chakrabarty – Shah’s carefully crafted Bengal trip comes against the backdrop of the ruling Trinamool Congress's attempts to pin the ‘outsider’ tag on the saffron party.
On Friday morning, the minister visited the famous Dakshineswar Kali Temple and after offering prayers he briefly interacted with the media and said, “I came here many times before also and sought blessings of Ma Kali for Bengal and the entire country. West Bengal is the land of Chaitanya Mahaprabhu, Thakur Ramakrishna Paramahamsa, Swami Vivekananda, Sri Aurobindo. Bengal was the centre of spiritual and religious awakening in India but the tradition of West Bengal was hurt with the appeasement politics. I would like to request the great people of Bengal to fulfil their responsibilities in restoring the pride of the state which was the centre of spiritual and religious awakening in India.”
After visiting the temple, he met Pandit Ajoy Chakrabarty at the eminent vocalist's Golf Club Road residence in south Kolkata. Shah listened to classical ‘stotra’ performed by the singer's students.
Speaking to media persons, Chakrabarty said, “I am sure you came here to know whether I am joining the BJP or not. I would like to clarify that I am not joining the BJP. My party name is ‘music party.’ I don’t understand anything about politics. I am happy that he came here and met me. I am happy that he listened to my students' performance. He invited me to his house in Delhi. I am a musician and I discussed music with him.”
The persistent effort of Mamata Banerjee to pit her party’s ‘Bangaliana’ (Bengaliness) strategy against 'outsider' BJP didn’t go unnoticed among the central leadership of the saffron party and political experts. They felt that in recent years she is trying to open a new front – apart from non-Bengali Hindu and Muslim vote share– to polarise Bengali votes to some extent to derail the BJP’s game plan ahead of the 2021 assembly polls.
During the Shahid Diwas virtual rally this year, Mamata intensified her attack on the BJP and termed its leaders "outsiders".
While taking a dig at Narendra Modi and Amit Shah, the Trinamool chairperson had said, “We will not allow Gujarat to run Bengal. Bengal can take care of itself. We don’t need BJP outsiders to take care of Bengal. Those (BJP) who are insulting Bengal, will have to pay a heavy price for it. A handful of faceless people who don’t have any ideology are trying to terrorise the people across the country because they are in power at the Centre. They are trying to gag our voice through terror.”
Speaking to News18.com, political expert Kapil Thakur said, “Here you have to understand what Mamata Banerjee meant by saying that Gujarat will not run Bengal. You also have to look deep inside why she is projecting BJP as ‘outsiders’. The reason is BJP-ruled states are not governed by the local leaders. It is actually run by the ‘Gujarat lobby’, BJP’s think tank in Nagpur. For any decision, the BJP-ruled state leaders and chief ministers need to get it approved from the ‘Gujarat lobby’ or the BJP’s think tank in Nagpur. The same is going to happen here in Bengal if the BJP will come to power. This is exactly the area which Mamata Banerjee is highlighting nowadays in political rallies. She meant to say to the people that if they vote for BJP then they will be commanded by outsiders in Gujarat and in Nagpur.”
This is the reason why the BJP central leaders are trying to connect with all the places, people and sentiments directly linked to Bengali sentiments and emotions, Thakur said. "He (Shah) talked about Chaitanya Mahaprabhu, Ramakrishna Paramahamsa, Swami Vivekananda, Sri Aurobindo and his visit to Dakshineswar Temple and meeting Pandit Ajoy Chakrabarty is an attempt to secure their acceptability among the masses and to polarise Hindu votes by highlighting the TMC’s appeasement politics,” he said.