NEW DELHI: Having lost the battle for Bengal, BJP is yet to sit down on a formal introspection of what went wrong in their carefully crafted campaign to oust chief minister Mamata Banerjee and her Trinamool Congress.
Party insiders say among other issues that came in the way, the party was unable to counter the “outsider” campaign against it by TMC and that the “personal attacks and taunts” on Banerjee cost them dearly as people in the state disliked the disrespectful approach to a sitting CM and a woman.
Local BJP leaders and central leaders – campaigning in the state for almost two months – have been targeting Banerjee, whose popularity was the main single most important element around which the TMC campaign was built.
“When this popular figure was hit by state BJP president Dilip Ghosh (asking her to show her legs wearing Bermudas), Prime Minister Narendra Modi (the Didi O Didi taunt) or home minister Amit Shah, it generated anger among even those who were not paying attention to the campaign,” said a party manager.
The TMC’s “outsider” campaign against BJP seemed to have worked as the saffron party failed to project any leader from the state and ran its entire campaign with central leaders, who did not even speak Bangla and are disconnected with the social, political culture of the state.
“How can you woo a people when even the slogans are in Hindi and not in the local language,” pointed out a party functionary who worked in the state. “We could have countered it… but we failed to do it,” said another leader.
Apart from these insiders have blamed the party strategy of running the entire election exercise through feedbacks from senior party leaders brought in from other states, who had no knowledge of Bengal or its people. “These leaders may be skilled, seasoned, but they were alien to the texture and flavour of the ground they were to work on… clueless about how people behave there,” said a partyman, who has worked in the state.
Senior BJP leaders like Sunil Bansal (UP), Chandrashekhar (Rajasthan) Pawan Bansal, Ratnakar had been posted in the state to take care of various regions and provide feedback from the ground on the basis of which tickets were to be distributed and campaign to be designed.
According to another party manager, the central leaders who had no ear to the ground, were blindly listening to the new imports from TMC, without verifying the facts that they were bringing to the table. This went wrong in many places. In fact, one of the main reasons for BJP’s defeat was that, the same faces of anti-incumbency from TMC, came seeking votes wearing the saffron jersey, while TMC had already put in a fresh face in the same constituency to counter anti-incumbency at the local level.
The BJP leadership will be taking stock of all the factors that were responsible for the party’s debacle in West Bengal, which has high on the party’s agenda since it won 18 of the 42 parliamentary seats in the state in 2019.