PM Narendra Modi may have replaced party old-timers with successful professionals to improve government functioning at the Centre, but the four junior ministers chosen from West Bengal are likely to have one central agenda — keep up pressure on the state government.
Junior Home Minister Nishith Pramanik has been very vocal over Bengal’s post-poll law and order, especially attacks on the BJP workers .
“As Amit Shah’s deputy, he will surely focus on law and order to not only expose Bengal’s poor law and order situation but also ensure protection of BJP workers, many of whom are leaving the party in droves to avoid Trinamul attacks,” said political analyst Ashis Biswas.
He said BJP workers who face much Trinamul aggression are no longer happy with promises — they want effective protection to be able to continue in BJP.
“Pramanik has a job cut out because as the country’s junior Home Minister, he can put pressure on state administration, specially police,” Biswas said. “And he will do it because he is aggressive.”
That Pramanik and tea tribe MP John Barla are both from North Bengal, where the BJP did very well, is significant.
Barla has already demanded separation of North Bengal and creation of a Ladakh-style Union Territory in the strategic ‘Siliguri corridor’ below Darjeeling , arguing the area has suffered much despite its tea and tourism industry.
“BJP may well plan a Kashmir type break-up in Bengal to create its zone of influence, like they did with Ladakh. Barla will be key to building up a pitch for that kind of an eventuality,” said Sukharanjan Dasgupta, veteran commentator and author of books on West Bengal.
He said the BJP has built up a narrative about Bengal’s law and order being worse than Kashmir, so breaking up the state like Kashmir is quite possible.
“Bengal has suffered this divide and rule under the British. Modi and his lieutenants are likely to follow the same path after their huge defeat this summer in the state polls,” Dasgupta told IANS.
“Modi and Shah can’t come to terms with that defeat. They will hit Mamata on different fronts and this new brigade of Bengal ministers is part of the game plan,” he said.
Santanu Thakur’s elevation is to consolidate BJP’s position in the sprawling Matua community, as much as Subhas Sarkar’s is aimed to consolidate the party’s position in the Bankura-Purulia belt, where the big Jharkhandi tribal population has moved towards BJP, like the Rajbongshis in North Bengal and Gorkhas in Darjeeling hills.
“The BJP is clearly focussing on 2024 Lok Sabha and 2026 Bengal polls…Matuas, Rajbongshis, Jharkhandi tribes, Hindi-speaking people in coal mine and jute mill zones will give the party an alternative social coalition and the choice of ministers from the state stem from that focus,” said Dasgupta.
While the BJP state leadership insists the choices are driven by performance , Trinamool leaders say the BJP has put together a “Gang of Four” as an attack team to disturb the state government .
“These ministers will work closely with Opposition leader Suvendu Adhikari and State BJP president Dilip Ghosh. We expect trouble, but we are prepared. And Pramanik will be used to push the CAA in Bengal,” said a senior Trinamul leader.
But he wished not to be named because he was not formally authorised to brief the media.
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