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Why alleged 'attack' on Mamata will be a non-issue in Bengal polls

Amitabh Tiwari
·Columnist
·4-min read
Mamata Banerjee recovering at a Kolkata hospital. Photo tweeted by her nephew, Abhishek Banerjee (https://twitter.com/abhishekaitc)
Mamata Banerjee recovering at a Kolkata hospital. Photo tweeted by her nephew, Abhishek Banerjee (https://twitter.com/abhishekaitc)

West Bengal is witnessing one of the most polarized elections in recent times. The alleged attack on Mamata and the politics around it has further charged the environment

Mamata Banerjee has been injured after being alelgedly pushed against her car in Nandigram. The incident happened during one of her roadshows after she filed her nomination papers on Wednesday.

The Trinamool Congress alleged neither the local police nor East Midnapore SP were around when the incident took place highlighting a security breach.

Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee sustained injuries on her leg which has been put in a plaster cast. She released a video message alleging conspiracy and appealed to the TMC cadres to be calm and not engage in any violence.

Although Mamata has not accused the Bharatiya Janata Party of being directly involved in the attack, nephew Abhsihek warned the BJP to brace itself for the results on May 2.

The West Bengal BJP was quick to rebut Mamata’s charge calling it a political stunt to g,ain sympathy as TMC is on a slippery ground in Bengal. The saffron party has dared TMC to prove BJP’s involvement in the attack.

Last year, when BJP president JP Nadda’s convoy was attacked, TMC had called it ‘stage managed’.

West Bengal has a history of violence during elections and hundreds of workers across the political spectrum have lost their lives.

Both the BJP and the TMC rushed to the Election Commission with their case. TMC called the incident a ‘deep rooted conspiracy to take Mamata’s life’. It accused the EC of summarily removing state DGP at the behest of BJP without any consultation with the state government alleging a link between the attack and recent transfers.

The BJP, accused Banerjee of ‘spreading lies’ and alleged that the TMC chief was trying to gain political mileage ahead of the Assembly elections. BJP submitted a memorandum to the EC seeking an investigation.

As per a Print article, the incident in Nandigram that resulted in an injury to the West Bengal Chief Minister was an accident and not an attack, according to preliminary police findings submitted to the EC.

Reacting sharply to TMC’s letter, the EC said the letter from the party was ‘full of insinuations and aversions’ which questions the ‘very basis of creation and functioning of EC’.

Allegations and counter allegations are flying high in this tensed environment.

Politics is a lot about optics and in the end whichever party wins the narrative will gain from this incident.

The TMC’s committed voters will believe Mamata’s story. This incident will motivate the workers to take revenge by defeating BJP at any cost. Recent exodus of leaders have dampened the spirit of cadre in some seats. Since this is going to ve a close election, the worker has to be on his toes and this alleged attack will energize the cadre.

The BJP quickly debunked the attack theory fearing a sympathy factor in favour of TMC. To its committed voter, BJP will push the incident as a sign of nervousness on Mamata’s part. It would highlight to its cadre that Mamata is on a sticky wicket in Nandigram and TMC in the whole of Bengal. A slight nudge will throw it out of power.

Both the sides are pushing their narrative with the fence sitters in mind. In any election there are 12%-15% undecided voters, and they generally decide whom to vote for just 2-3 days before the polling day. The party whose narrative these swing voters buy could marginally tilt the scale in their favour on this issue.

However, this incident is just one of the many factors that will influence Bengal elections. It is not the deciding factor. It is unlikely to hold out over the next 7-8 weeks and fizzle out in a week or so.

Dragging the same is not in TMC’s favour especially given the initial report findings, while BJP would deviate from major issues, if it focuses too much on this incident.

All in all, it will be a non-issue in these elections as the phases progress. Much ado about nothing! The voter is really smart to sift pertinent issues from frivolous ones.

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