By Anand Singh
Kolkata, May 2 (Indus Prism) The BJP should not have “underestimated” its opponent and Trinamool Congress supremo Mamata Banerjee, and the party should have read the heritage, history and culture of West Bengal properly as people of the state are more inclusive, said Chandra Kumar Bose, the grand nephew of Netaji Subhas Chandra Bose and grandson of Sarat Chandra Bose, the elder brother of Netaji.
He also said that the BJP should have announced a chief ministerial candidate in West Bengal, besides not imposing its ideology on the people.
While the counting of votes is still on, the Trinamool is poised to return to power for the third time in a row in Bengal with leads in over 200 seats, well above the magic figure of 148.
Bose, who had joined the BJP in January 2016, told IANS that the 2021 Assembly election results are good for the party as it is leading on over 80 out of the 292 seats that went to the polls.
He said, “I think it is a good performance. In 2016, we had won three Assembly seats while this time we have been leading on more than 80 seats. In fact, it is a fairly good performance. And yes, we fell short of the magic figure of 148 to form the government.”
Bose further said that he had in fact given suggestion to the party leadership that it needs to get the 6 per cent critical vote bank.
“We had in fact got 41 per cent votes in 2019 (general elections) but we fell short of the critical vote bank of Bengal and we fell short by 4 to 5 per cent. This has happened this time also as the people of Bengal are very inclusive in nature,” Bose said.
He also noted that the appeasement politics of Trinamool Congress cannot be countered by appeasement of the Hindu community.
“You need to have inclusive politics of reaching out to all religions in equal manner and cannot give weightage to one and less weightage to another. And there we failed to win the critical vote bank,” the BJP leader said.
Bose noted that while polarisation happened in North Bengal, it did not happen in all the 292 seats.
He said, “If you consider 292 seats, polarisation happened only on certain seats.”
Bose added that if BJP could have done inclusive politics, then it could have reached out to the 10 crore voters of Bengal.
“What happened by doing vote bank politics and appeasement politics… we could not reach out to 100 per cent voters in the state,” Bose said.
Citing an example, the BJP leader said that if you sit in an exam, you need to prepare for 100 per cent of the questions, but “we had prepared for 60 per cent questions and by answering 60 per cent questions one cannot top in exams”.
“That is what I feel. My strategy was to reaching out to all communities like Hindu, Msulim, Sikh and others, then we would have combated the strategy of Mamata Banerjee,” he said.
“But we underestimated our opponent as Banerjee is a leader of the masses and of repute. We should have taken our opponent seriously,” Bose said.
He also said that the party leaders claiming to reach the halfway mark during few phases of polls did not work.
“These comments had an adverse effect on Bengal voters because Bengali people are very sentimental and intellectual. They took offence to that,” Bose said.
He noted that “you cannot in the halfway stage claim that Mamata Banerjee would not be forming the government, and this was when the elections didn’t even reach the halfway mark”.
“I think those things we should have avoided and we should have also learnt the history, heritage and culture of Bengal. It was a bad reading,” the BJP leader said.
Bose also said that the party should have focused more on local leaders.
“We know that BJP is a national party but more focus should have been given on local leaders backed by national leaders. We have a lot of local leaders like Mukul Roy, Dilip Ghosh, Suvendu Adhikari and others. And of course local leaders should have got support from the national leadership,” he said.
He also said that a chief ministerial face should have been projected in West Bengal.
Backing his claims, Bose said, “Bengal is not Madhya Pradesh or Uttar Pradesh, where the BJP has a strong support base. Trinamool Congress has a strong face in the form of Mamata Banerjee.”
Citing examples of strong CM faces, Bose said that against Congress Chief Minister Siddhartha Shankar Ray, the Left parties had brought Jyoti Basu.
First Basu and then Buddhadeb Bhattacharya ruled till 2011 for 34 years and then Mamata Banerjee emerged as the strong face, he said.
“I had suggested this to the central leadership. But the party decided to follow its own ideology. Look, you need to do what Bengal wants. You cannot impose yourself on Bengal and ask people to vote for you,” Bose said, adding that these are the things that went wrong.
He also said that now the BJP is the major opposition party in the state and it will play the role of a responsible opposition.
“We have several issues like the Covid menace and development of the state and we will work as a responsible opposition,” the BJP leader said.
Commenting on the performance of Left parties and the Congress in the state, Bose said that both have been decimated in Bengal.
He felt that Left parties have the support base at the grassroot and booth level but they were unable to reach out to the voters.
(Anand Singh can be contacted at [email protected])