The atmosphere in Bengal is politically charged where the slightest provocation can lead to violence. A bruised BJP, which was refused permission to take out a rath yatra, has been on a rally spree. Highly placed sources say the party may organise as many as 310 rallies till April, with about half the number till February first week. Prime Minister Narendra Modi is slated to address two of these rallies, one on February 2 in North 24 Parganas and Durgapur and the other on February 8 in Siliguri, a city in the northern part of Bengal.

But in the run-up to the high octane and much-anticipated PM's rally, Bengal is witnessing a slugfest of accusations and counter-accusations of orchestrating violence. The noise reached a crescendo on Tuesday when buses and motorcycles of BJP supporters were attacked and some set on fire during BJP president Amit Shah's rally at Kanthi in East Midnapore, an area where TMC minister Subhendu Adhikari wields huge influence.

Visuals of buses that brought BJP cadre with shattered window panes and burning bikes went viral. The BJP was quick to allege the TMC, 'scared' of BJP's rise, was behind it. The TMC countered the charge by claiming the clash was started by BJP when it attacked TMC party offices.

By evening, waters were muddied further with Union home minister Rajnath Singh calling Bengal chief minister Mamata Banerjee to express the Centre’s concern over the violence during Amit Shah's rally. Sources say, Bengal governor Kesri Narayan Tripathi is likely to summon the state director general of police to seek an explanation for the “failure of law and order” in the state.

Why Bengal, which has seen far worse instances of violence, is suddenly crying foul over scattered incidents of violence? Earlier, in the Purulia district, where the BJP made considerable inroads during panchayat elections, fought in an extremely hostile environment, two of its cadre — Trilochan Mahato and Dulal Kumar — were found dead under mysterious circumstances with their bodies hanging from trees carrying messages warning against doing activism for the BJP. The opposition party then alleged the TMC had bumped them off, which Bengal’s ruling party denied.

Why would violence of such smaller magnitude perplex BJP when earlier, at best, it chose to just react with an angry tweet or a press conference? The answer lies in the looming 2019 general election where the BJP hopes to get many seats from the state, compensating its possible losses in the Hindi heartland. The BJP has set a target of 23+ seats in Bengal where it could manage only two last general elections when Modi magic was at its peak.

A source in the national leadership of the BJP told MyNation the current discourse helps the party in the run-up to the February 2 rally of Prime Minister where one of the main issues will be an attack on the opposition and stifling of democracy, something the TMC accused the BJP of all along.

No wonder, on Wednesday, the BJP blocked the cavalcade of state education minister Partha Chatterjee and some even shown him black flags. Sources say the momentum will not be allowed to die down till the general election.


The BJP hopes to do a grand rally of PM Modi in the first week of April in Kolkata when all BJP-ruled chief ministers are expected to hit the campaign trail and give that much-needed push to achieve its Mission 23+. Till then, Shah will be holding rallies in Bengal every month. State leaders like Dilip Ghosh and Roopa Ganguly have been asked to keep the momentum and maintain the image of a Bengal where law and order have failed and BJP alone can be the alternative.