Former West Bengal Cabinet Minister and suspended Trinamool Congress secretary general Partha Chatterjee has been in the custody of the Enforcement Directorate (ED) for over a week now but the state unit of the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) hasn’t been able to capitalise on an issue as sensitive as corruption in the recruitment of teachers.
Save for a few token demonstrations in Kolkata and the suburbs, the BJP hasn’t made any effort to mobilise support in rural areas till now. This has led to criticism from a section of leaders who want an all-out campaign to start before the Panchayat Elections in West Bengal in 2023.
“We have 71 MLAs in West Bengal and the Left Front has none. Yet, the Left has started organising protest rallies and meetings in the districts, particularly in small towns and rural areas. Our top leadership is in Kolkata, holding press meets to counter the Trinamool Congress’ claims.
The Trinamool Congress is on the backfoot now, however much the party may try to put up a brave front. This is the time to strike at the grassroots level. After all, a large number of eligible candidates denied jobs as teachers due to this racket are from small towns and villages. Somehow, our leadership fails to understand this,” a BJP MLA said.
On Sunday, state BJP president and MP Sukanta Majumdar said that people in West Bengal have realised by now that the Trinamool Congress is corrupt.
That may be true but what alternatives do people in villages have where the BJP has not been able to make inroads. Apart from 71 MLAs, the Party also has 16 Lok Sabha MPs from the state.
This should have provided the necessary backing to create strong units in rural areas. After all, its a well known fact that Panchayat Elections in West Bengal have been marred by violence and intimidation.
“Its too much to expect the common villager to rise up and protest while facing political goons and the police who will be doing the bidding of the political party in power in the state. MLAs are ready to start active protests in the rural areas but there is no clearance from the leadership. If the Panchayat Elections are won by the Trinamool Congress, it will provide a great boost to the Party ahead of the 2024 Parliamentary Polls.
“While many eligible candidates who were denied jobs are from villages, so are several ineligible ones who sold land to pay for jobs. Once they lose their jobs and are directed to return salaries, they will face severe hardships. This is where the BJP has to step in and tell people how both sections of people have been let down by the Trinamool Congress,” another MLA said.
Several video clips, on eligible candidates unable to get jobs, have already started doing the round. One such clip in Bangla is about a vegetable seller in Jhargram named Akash who secured first class in Sanskrit and also completed his B.Ed before clearing his Teachers Eligibility Test (TET) in 2015. He received no call letter. Akash now sells vegetables and gives tuitions to run his family.
While chief minister Mamata Banerjee speaks of development of Jangalmahal (Jhargram is a part), there are many such Akashes whose dreams have been ground to dust over the last several years. A section of BJP leaders want to capitalise on this but the state leadership doesn’t seem to be listening.