People hold their tongue and let BJP worry
The BJP’s door-to-door campaign to drum up support for the amended citizenship law and counter the “misinformation” being spread by the Opposition has hit an unexpected roadblock in north Bengal — lack of curiosity.
Whether it is Siliguri or Malda, people are courteously listening to BJP leaders and receiving pamphlets and leaflets detailing the intricacies of the Citizenship (Amendment) Act, which has sparked off protests across the country, but are neither seeking any clarification nor asking any questions.
BJP leaders in north Bengal said they were flummoxed as they did not know how to interpret such behaviour.
A BJP leader in Siliguri said on the condition of anonymity: “It is obvious that many people will accept the leaflets and listen to us. But simultaneously, we expect questions from people as our political contenders have been consistently campaigning against the new law.
“During our campaign, people are exchanging pleasantries with us but hardly interacting with us on the CAA. This is a unique situation and we cannot understand whether these people are supporting the CAA or they don’t want to reveal their actual stand and are thus avoiding an interaction.”
BJP leaders in Malda said they were facing similar problems.
“It would be wrong to take it for granted that all the people we are meeting support the act. We feel the campaign should be carried out in an informal manner and without much fanfare. Then only can we understand whether people in north Bengal are with the BJP, as they were during the parliament elections last year, or there has been a change,” a Malda BJP leader said.
A senior BJP leader pointed to the massive and spontaneous response to Trinamul’s two marches in Siliguri and Cooch Behar over the past week against the CAA, NRC and the NPR.
“The presence of so many people at Trinamul’s rallies is significant. Also, in north Bengal, various communities do not want the CAA for various reasons. Further, many people are worried about the NRC. Although we have not been referring to the NRC during our campaign, it is surprising that people are not even asking anything about it. In such a situation, it would be wrong to draw the simple inference that since people are listening to us, they are with the BJP,” the leader said.
The BJP MP of Darjeeling, Raju Bista, has been campaigning in the Siliguri sub-division. On Thursday, he visited some localities on the outskirts of the city and on Friday, he went to the municipal wards, meeting people and telling them about the CAA.
“We are getting a good response from people. They are listening to us as we are apprising them about the legislation and how it is being misinterpreted and presented before them by some political parties, including Trinamul. It seems people here are well aware of the act,” Bista said.
Bista said chief minister Mamata Banerjee’s visits to the Darjeeling hills would not create any political impact.
“Despite her consistent campaign in the hills ahead of the Lok Sabha polls, the BJP won the Darjeeling seat for the third time. Such visits will not change the minds of the hill people. Our party will take up political activities in the hills. We are trying to meet Amit Shah with representatives of our allies to draw up a campaign plan for the hills,” Bista said.