Other States

Bypoll setback: Rumblings in Bengal BJP over stand on NRC

Mamata Banerjee used the issue very skilfully to instil fear, says Babul Supriyo

The setback to the BJP in the recently concluded bypolls has triggered discussion within its sections whether the saffron party needs to rethink its strategy on the National Register of Citizens (NRC). A section of the leadership has unequivocally blamed the party’s over-emphasis on its implementation for the loss but others including State president Dilip Ghosh are of the opinion that the blame should not be put on it.

“How can the NRC be a factor for defeat in the Kharagpur Sadar Assembly seat,” asked Mr. Ghosh, also an MP from the region, to a question by The Hindu.

“As Kharagpur has a cosmopolitan population of Hindi speaking and also Telugu people settled there for decades, how can the NRC be a factor,” he asked. The TMC won the seat by a margin of 20,853 votes in the bypoll, where the BJP had secured a lead of 45,000 votes in the Lok Sabha polls six months ago. Mr. Ghosh said it is a little premature to blame the NRC and the party would analyse the reasons for its defeat. He said the Trinamool Congress has done no miracle in the six months and the reason why people voted against the BJP needs to be analysed.

Even before the results were announced, BJP’s Kaliaganj candidate Kamal Chandra Sarkar told journalists that the NRC was the sole reason if he lost the election. “We could not explain it to the people who are in fear,” Mr. Sarkar, who lost by 2,414 votes, said. The BJP had secured 56,000 more votes than the TMC in the 2019 Lok Sabha polls in the seat.

Union Minister of State and BJP MP from Asansol Babul Supriyo also spoke about the NRC while commenting on the setback. “It is very easy to instil fear among the people and the clever politician which Mamata Banerjee is, she used the issue very skilfully to instil fear,” Mr. Supriyo said. Indicating that the NRC was an issue, he said the people should be explained that Citizenship Amendment Bill (CAB) will precede any exercise of the NRC.

Interestingly, the first reference to the implementation of the NRC in Bengal was made by BJP president Amit Shah during the run up to the Lok Sabha polls at a public rally in the Alipurduar district on March 30, 2019.

“Mamataji thinks that infiltrators will see her through in the polls….The Narendra Modi government will be elected again and we will bring NRC and oust each and every infiltrator from the State,” Mr. Shah had said.

Despite winning 18 Lok Sabha seats, the BJP started feeling the heat on NRC as the Trinamool chairperson and Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee had started sighting figures of the people who committed suicide due to fear of implementation of the NRC. Mr. Shah held another public meeting after the polls in the city to dispel the concerns.

“I want to tell you, and assure you that the BJP government will bring the CAB [Citizenship Amendment Bill] before NRC,” Mr. Shah said on October 1.

Despite the attempts by the BJP to allay fears, the Trinamool leadership raked it up at every public meeting. Ms. Banerjee repeatedly said she won’t allow any NRC or detention camps in the State.

The BJP clearly seems divided with a section of its leadership saying what works in the rest of India may not help its political prospects in the State.

“It’s essential for @BJP4Bengal to cleanse the party system & devise a strategy specific to Bengal. Pan India strategy would not apply to the land of Swami Vivekananda & Netaji Subhas Chandra Bose,” party State vice-president and Netaji’s grandnephew Chandra Kumar Bose had tweeted on Friday.

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Printable version | Feb 22, 2020 7:17:42 AM | https://www.thehindu.com/news/national/other-states/bypoll-setback-rumblings-in-bengal-bjp-over-stand-on-nrc/article30131477.ece

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