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Martyrs’ day and its nuggets: Mamata Banerjee admonishes BJP and CPI(M)

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By Arnab Mitra

On the eve of the age-old martyrs’ day celebration, Mamata Banerjee kicked off her election campaign for the forthcoming state assembly elections.

Picture credit: indiatoday.in
Picture credit: indiatoday.in

On the 21st of July 1993, 13 people were shot dead in a police firing owing to their incessant demands to make voter ID card as the sole document to exercise one’s right to vote. It was Mamata Banerjee who started off with this annual affair; a day to commemorate the sacrifices of the martyrs at Shahid Minar.

In an effort to save her party from the string of criticisms dogging her and her party members, she lambasted the media and the opposition parties, “the media and the opposition parties are working hand in glove to shatter the image of the Government, but the people are stronger than media and they will judge our performance”.

Reiterating her distrust in the Modi government, she says, “ Don’t teach us how to deal with corruption, better see yourselves.” Criticizing Modi’s flagship programmes like Swach Bharat Abhiyan and Beti Padao aur Beti Bachao Andolan, she added, “Modi ji work, don’t say.”

Picture credit: indiatoday.in
Picture credit: indiatoday.in

Fleshing out her government’s progress report, she added that Nadia district has been declared as India’s cleanest district by UNESCO. Further, shedding light on the state government’s initiative to up the status of girls in the state, she also restated that Kanyashri Prakalpa – a state-run program to support and empower adolescent girls- has 22 lakhs adolescent girls under its wings, the number being the highest amongst the states.

Refuting the media furore about her joining hands with the BJP in the upcoming assembly elections, she said, “Trinamool Congress will fight alone and win all the assembly seats in Bengal”.

Giving an inkling of her party’s strength and intent, she lashed out at her predecessors, “ For 35 years CPI(M) failed to develop the state, and when we are trying to bring forth development, they are feeling jealous. In 2016, the CPI(M) party will totally be removed from the state”.

Besides applauding her party members for the amount of hard work they have put in, she also ensured the youth of the state that they will soon be bagging coveted employment opportunities. According to her, the government will soon hire two lakh people in different sectors.

Rolling out her schemes exclusively meant for the poor, she said the state government will be providing ration on a monthly basis to three lakhs poor people in Bengal.

Further, the government will be giving scholarships to students hailing from the minority communities and will be building 22 multi-specialty hospitals and five new universities in Bengal.

 

indianexpress.com
indianexpress.com

Mamata Banerjee also gave a strong message to her party workers. She said, “To be a Trinamool party member, you have to follow five Ds- Discipline, Dedication, Determination, Devotion and Development”.

Painting a pro-poor picture of her party, she said Trinamool is a party for the poor people and not for the businessmen.

In an attempt at sporting her support for a party bereaved of corruption, she warned her party members involved in syndicates or illegal mining activities of grave repercussions. In addition, she asked the young generation to respect their elders and teachers.

As a last nail on the coffin, she congratulated the people of Kolkata for their recent victory in the elections to the Kolkata Municipal corporation and promised the people that she will arrange a victory party in Kolkata after Bengal becomes green in the 2016 assembly elections.

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Why JDU & BJP Coalition Will Remain Intact

JDU knows that this 15-16% votes is not enough to help the party and for the BJP too, only the 17% votes of upper castes are not sufficient

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Nitish Kumar with Narendra Modi.
Nitish Kumar with Narendra Modi.

By Sagarneel Sinha

There have been lots of discussions among the political circles that JDU led by Bihar Chief
Minister Nitish Kumar is upset with the BJP and trying to send signals to erst allies — RJD and the Congress. This led to speculations that Nitish may once again join the Grand Alliance (GA) leaving the NDA camp. Already, RJD’s new commander Tejasvi Yadav has clearly stated that Nitish led JDU will not be welcomed in the GA. Despite all the odds, if (suppose) GA partners accommodate Nitish, he wouldn’t be the driving force of the alliance as in 2015. Also, Nitish cannot afford to go alone like in 2014 when his party fetched only 2 seats!

Then which is the correct way for JDU? It is to go with the BJP in the upcoming 2019 polls.
JDU’s advantage in this case is the present situation of the BJP. Currently, the saffron party is not in a strong position as the party would be facing anti-incumbency from a strong RJD led alliance in the state. BJP’s traditional voters are the upper castes who account for 17% of the electorate. This votebank is not enough for the party to help to win elections. The main opposition party — RJD still commands over a larger votebank than BJP. RJD is still a dominant force among the Yadavs and the Muslims who account for 31% of the population. It means BJP has to minus the 31% votes and rely on the rest — 69%. Out of these, 16% are the Mahadalits — a large portion of whom generally hail Nitish Kumar as their leader. Also, there are Kurmis, an OBC group consisting of 4% votes — considered as the supporters of JDU. Nitish Kumar himself is also a Kurmi.

Nitish Kumar Invited to Join NDA by Amit Shah After JDU-BJP Tie-up in Bihar
Nitish Kumar Invited to Join NDA by Amit Shah After JDU-BJP Tie-up in Bihar.

JDU knows that this 15-16% votes is not enough to help the party and for the BJP too, only the 17% votes of upper castes are not sufficient. However, if these votebanks are joined together they form around 31-32%. Plus, to gain the extra votes, both the parties have the option to rely on the personal charisma of Nitish Kumar and Prime Minister Narendra Modi. However, there is a power tussle between the two allies to get a respectable share of seats.

This power tussle is because of a strong BJP which earlier used to be a junior ally. The 2014 Lok Sabha elections changed the political scenario of the state where BJP emerged as the largest party in terms of vote share and seats. JDU knows the reality of a new emerging BJP, though it is pushing hard to gain a respectable share of seats for the Lok Sabha elections. Instead, Nitish Kumar has another option — giving the bigger chunk to the BJP for the Lok Sabha elections and the latter playing the junior partner for the 2020 assembly elections if held timely. Given the current situation in the country, in a crucial state like Bihar, BJP can hardly reject JDU as the later still commands over 15-16% votes — a very crucial votebank for winning maximum seats in the 2019 polls. Importance of JDU can also be explained by BJP president Amit Shah’s visit to Patna to have breakfast and dinner with Nitish Kumar. Though in politics there are no permanent friends or foes, so any perfect prediction is impossible. But given the current situation, JDU and BJP parting their ways seems unlikely as both the parties are in need of each other as already highlighted by Amit Shah that the two allies would fight the Lok Sabha elections together. Smiling face of Nitish Kumar was also an indication that the meetings with Amit Shah were fine.