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Opinion: Why Modi-Shah Hyped Bengal So Much – by Yashwant Sinha

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Opinion: Why Modi-Shah Hyped Bengal So Much – by Yashwant Sinha


Elections in West Bengal are done and dusted: the Trinamool Congress, led by Mamata Banerjee, has scored a stunning victory, the BJP has been defeated, though compared to the three seats it had won the last time, it has done exceedingly well by winning 77 seats. But it has failed miserably when compared to its own target of winning over 200 seats and forming the government. The Left-Congress alliance has come a cropper, unable to win a single seat. Mamata Banerjee is going to be sworn in today as Chief Minister of West Bengal for a third time.

Periodic elections are a normal feature of any democracy. The West Bengal elections would also have been a normal event like the other state elections which were held at the same time, had it not been for the hype created by none other than the Prime Minister and Home Minister of India. “Do mai, didi gai” became their war cry, repeated in one public meeting after another. Despite the model code of conduct being in place, there is no restriction on boasting and making tall claims by political party leaders during elections. But when a claim is made by no less than the Prime Minister or Home Minister, one takes it more seriously. The reason is simple – they receive information not only through political sources but also through various governmental agencies at their disposal. So when the Prime Minister and Home Minister of the country say “Do mai, didi gai” or make any other such claim, one has to take it more seriously. In meeting after meeting, they kept repeating that ‘Didi’ had already lost the election and kept playing other mind-games. They set a new low in political discourse and used shameful language.

But that is not the only issue the elections have raised. Why was such hype created around the West Bengal elections alone? The answer to my mind is simple. I have to give credit to the Modi-Shah team for planning things much in advance. Modi would not have become Prime Minister after marginalising leaders like LK Advani, Sushma Swaraj, Arun Jaitley, Rajnath Singh, Venkaiah Naidu and others but for such advance planning. They calculated that in none of the other states was the incumbent Chief Minister due for a third term. And in none of these states would a prospective Chief Minister have acquired an aura at the national level like Mamata Banerjee would if she won the election. Nobody would have been a threat to the Delhi establishment like her with a victor. So if they wanted to win the 2024 Lok Sabha elections, Mamata had to be stopped at all and any cost.

Hence the deployment of such massive resources by the BJP in West Bengal; hence the repeated trips to that state by the Prime Minister and Home Minister; hence the complete disregard by them of the raging covid crisis; hence the gloating by the Prime Minister at the huge (arranged) crowds at his rallies, specially at Asansol, in complete disregard of covid norms. But nothing worked for them, as the results showed, because their approach was fundamentally flawed. West Bengal is not like any other state in India. It has its own unique cultural traditions, its own rich language and its own pride. Its people would not be impressed by a couple of outsiders coming to Bengal at election time and imitating and irritating them. They were not impressed by a Prime Minister behaving like a goon when he thought he was regaling the crowds by chanting ‘Didi-o Didi’. It hurt their fine sensibilities when these outsiders showed complete ignorance of facts, like when the Home Minister of India claimed that Tagore was born in Shantiniketan. A Gurudev-like beard cultivated specially for the occasion impressed nobody. And finally, they disliked immensely the insult heaped upon the ‘daughter of Bengal’ by these outsiders day in and day out.

Separately, the Congress has been a major loser in these elections. The Left has at least won Kerala and created history by being the first government in 40 years to be re-elected. There was some hope for the Congress in Assam but it failed there also. The time for serious introspection for the Congress party is now. It cannot postpone it forever. If a non-Gandhi has to lead the Congress party, then so be it, otherwise we may soon see a ‘Congress-mukt Bharat’. That will be tragic indeed. The Congress party must live, if not for itself, then at least for the country.

In the meanwhile, the future beckons. Opposition parties must come together and start strategising for 2024. But the road to Delhi this time passes through Lucknow. The Yogi government there has been a dismal failure on multiple fronts. It is ripe fruit ready to be plucked. So the immediate target of the opposition should be Uttar Pradesh. A world-class six-lane highway, built by Akhilesh Yadav, connects Delhi and Lucknow, which reduces the travel time between the two cities and makes the journey pleasant. So, capture Lucknow in 2022. Delhi will then be only a few hours away.

Yashwant Sinha, former BJP leader, was Minister of Finance (1998-2002) and Minister of External Affairs (2002-2004). He is currently vice-president, Trinamool Congress.

Disclaimer: The opinions expressed within this article are the personal opinions of the author. The facts and opinions appearing in the article do not reflect the views of NDTV and NDTV does not assume any responsibility or liability for the same.



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ICYMI: Israeli airstrike destroys the building that housed foreign media offices in Gaza

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ICYMI: Israeli airstrike destroys the building that housed foreign media offices in Gaza



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Israel strikes Gaza building housing international media offices





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After 83 Deaths, Goa Health Minister Says Oxygen Supply Streamlining At Biggest Covid Hospital

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After 83 Deaths, Goa Health Minister Says Oxygen Supply Streamlining At Biggest Covid Hospital


After 83 Deaths, Goa Health Minister Says Oxygen Supply Streamlining At Biggest Covid Hospital

A 20,000-kilo litre oxygen tank was commissioned at the Goa Medical College and Hospital on Saturday.

Panaji:

The oxygen supply at the Goa Medical College and Hospital was getting streamlined following the commissioning of a new tank of life-saving gas at the facility, state Health Minister Vishwajit Rane said on Sunday.

Over the last five days (till Saturday morning), 83 patients died at the state-run medical facility during the “dark hours” between 2 am and 6 am, as per official figures.

A 20,000-kilo litre oxygen tank was commissioned at the Goa Medical College and Hospital (GMCH) on Saturday.

Vishwajit Rane told PTI that the oxygen supply at the GMCH was getting streamlined after the commissioning of the tank.

“Now, we should not have problems regarding the oxygen supply. The commissioning of the tank is a major step towards solving this problem,” he said.

The tank was shifted from Bicholim industrial estate and the move would reduce the GMCH’s dependence on oxygen cylinders, Chief Minister Pramod Sawant said on Saturday.

On Saturday, GMCH Dean Dr Shivanand Bandekar said it was not right to attribute all the deaths during the “dark hours” over the last few days to a drop in oxygen levels as COVID-19 fatalities were taking place throughout the day.

“There can be several reasons,” he had said. The Goa government earlier told the Bombay High Court that there were “logistic issues” related to the supply of medical oxygen to patients.

The High Court’s Goa bench had asked the state government to take corrective steps.



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Premier League: West Ham’s top-four hopes dim after Brighton draw, Leeds thrash Burnley

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Premier League: West Ham’s top-four hopes dim after Brighton draw, Leeds thrash Burnley



West Ham’s hopes of a place in next season’s Champions League were all but ended after a 1-1 draw at Brighton on Saturday, while Leeds thrashed Burnley 4-0 at Turf Moor in a match overshadowed by an ugly incident between Ezgjan Alioski and Dwight McNeil.

The Hammers are now five points adrift of the top four with just six left to play for after two late goals at the Amex Stadium.

Danny Welbeck dinked home the opener for Brighton with just six minutes to go with the visitors caught chasing a winner. Substitute Said Benrahma levelled with his first Premier League goal three minutes later, but a point leaves David Moyes’s men still in sixth.

“It’s obviously horrible because we had the Champions League in our sights,” said West Ham midfielder Declan Rice, who made his return from injury.

“We can’t be relying on other teams to lose. We have to go out and win. We’ve drawn too many and lost a few.”

West Ham only secured survival in their penultimate game of last season, but have posed an unexpected challenge for Europe and can still secure a place in the Europa League should they win their final two games.

“This season has been outstanding,” added Rice.

“We learned to win ugly this year. It’s been a rollercoaster but we can still finish on a high.”

Brighton remain in 17th, but are already guaranteed a fifth consecutive season in the top-flight.

Alioski reported

Burnley also secured their survival with victory over Fulham on Monday and looked like a side already looking forward to their summer holidays as Leeds ran riot to cement their place in the top half of the table in their first season back in the Premier League for 16 years.

However, the major talking point was a clash between McNeil and Alioski, which Burnley boss Sean Dyche said will be reported to the English Football Association

McNeil shouted angrily at Alioski after making a crunching challenge on the Macedonian.

The England under-21 international appeared to suggest Alioski had dived, but the Leeds player got to his feet and responded by covering his ears and sticking out his tongue.

Both benches got involved in an argument and referee Graham Scott then called over Dyche and Leeds boss Marcelo Bielsa, as well as Clarets captain Ben Mee and Leeds skipper Luke Ayling, before play could resume.

“A report has come into the referee and that will be passed on to the FA,” said Dyche, who did not say which player was involved.

“One of our players made the report and I was there to be a witness to the report, not the incident.”

Asked if there was a racial element to the complaint, Dyche declined to comment further and the FA said it would await the report before commenting.

Bielsa said he had not seen Alioski’s reaction.

“If there was a gesture I didn’t see it. I saw there was a dispute but I didn’t think it was too different to what usually happens within a game.”

Dyche withdrew McNeil moments later as he was replaced by Johann Berg Gudmundsson, though the Burnley manager said the decision was unrelated.

“I was going to take Dwight off,” he said. “He’s put in a lot of effort this season and done very well over this season.

Mateusz Klich put Bielsa’s side ahead on the stroke of half-time.

Leeds punished Burnley after the break as Jack Harrison added a second before providing the two assists as Rodrigo came off the bench to bag a brace.

Southampton beat relegated Fulham 3-1 to move up to 13th. Che Adams, Nathan Tella and Theo Walcott were on target for Ralph Hassenhuttl’s men.



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