Bengal polls 2021: BJP shocked by defeat of Modi-Shah
The resounding defeat of the Narendra Modi-Amit Shah brand of politics in Bengal has come as a shock to the BJP amid signs of discontent within some party lobbies.
Although most BJP leaders chose silence, a few old-timers privately blamed the Modi-Shah duo and seemed to betray a sense of relief, interpreting the verdict as a blow to the arrogance at the top.
“The BJP has performed very well in Bengal. It’s Modi-Shah’s politics that has been defeated,” a party veteran told The Telegraph.
Several veterans warned of similar poll results in the future if the party persisted with its current brand of politics.
Led by Prime Minister Modi and home minister Shah, BJP campaigners had unashamedly spoken the language of polarisation.
Many had deemed elements of the Prime Minister’s taunting of Mamata Banerjee as socially inappropriate.
Some questioned the BJP’s present policy of using the “Modi-Shah model” in every state. “Why is Modi the mascot in all state elections and Shah the chief strategist?” an old-timer asked.
Modi, accused of focusing on the Bengal polls at the cost of Covid preparations, appeared so deeply occupied on Sunday with meetings to ramp up oxygen supplies that he seemed to find no time to comment on the election results till evening.
When he did break his silence, he congratulated Mamata but chose to put a spin on the drubbing in Bengal, portraying it as marking the BJP’s rise from a “negligible presence” in Bengal.
While the BJP tally has jumped from its 2016 score of 3 seats, it has fallen far below the 121 Assembly segments it had led from in the 2019 Lok Sabha elections in Bengal. Before Sunday’s results, Modi and other BJP campaigners had claimed their party would win more than 200 of the state’s 294 seats.
“Congratulations to Mamata Didi for @AITCofficial’s win in West Bengal. The Centre will continue to extend all possible support to the West Bengal government...,” Modi tweeted.
Congratulations to Mamata Didi for @AITCofficial's win in West Bengal. The Centre will continue to extend all possible support to the West Bengal Government to fulfil people’s aspirations and also to overcome the COVID-19 pandemic. @MamataOfficial— Narendra Modi (@narendramodi) May 2, 2021
“I would like to thank my sisters and brothers from West Bengal who have blessed our party. From a negligible presence earlier, the BJP’s presence has significantly increased.”
পশ্চিমবঙ্গবাসী ভাইবোনেরা, যারা আমাদের দলকে ভোট দিয়েছেন,তাদের আমি ধন্যবাদ জানাতে চাই। অতীতের এক নগণ্য উপস্থিতি থেকে শুরু করে, বিজেপি'র গুরুত্ব, আজ যথেষ্ট বেড়েছে। বিজেপি মানুষের জন্যে কাজ করে যাবে। এই নির্বাচনে সমস্ত কার্যকর্তার উৎসাহব্যঞ্জক অংশগ্রহন, প্রশংসনীয়।— Narendra Modi (@narendramodi) May 2, 2021
After Modi, Shah too broke his silence and posted tweets in Hindi and Bengali accepting the verdict. He didn’t congratulate Mamata, restricting himself to celebrating the BJP’s emergence as a “strong Opposition”.
बंगाल की जनता के जनादेश का सम्मान करते हैं।— Amit Shah (@AmitShah) May 2, 2021
भाजपा को दिए समर्थन के लिए जनता का आभार व्यक्त करता हूँ। भाजपा एक मजबूत विपक्ष के रूप में बंगाल की जनता के अधिकारों व प्रदेश की प्रगति के लिए निरंतर आवाज उठाती रहेगी।@BJP4Bengal के कार्यकर्ताओं के परिश्रम के लिए उनका अभिनंदन करता हूँ।
Party veteran and defence minister Rajnath Singh was among the first to congratulate Mamata and convey his “best wishes”, prompting some to sniff a hint of defiance. Finance minister Nirmala Sitharaman tweeted her congratulations to “didi” a while later.
BJP leaders normally wait for Modi to speak first on such occasions.