The way Narendra Modi has taken on Mamata Banerjee has baffled the common man who till recently were under impression that Modi was trying to seal a secret deal with Mamata Banerjee for post poll adjustment, if not a full- fledged support.
In his first poll rally in West Bengal, Modi had desisted from launching any personal attack on Mamata Banerjee and her government. He went on to say that the people of Bengal should vote in a way so that they have Modi at the centre and Mamata in the state with Pranab Mukherjee in Rashtrapati Bhawan to take care of their needs.
It was a clear indication of Modi going soft on Mamata and looking for a post-poll deal with her party.
Evem Mamata Banerjee was vague and started deflecting questions on a post-poll tie up with Modi- led BJP.
All of a sudden, Modi seems to have changed his strategy vis-à-vis Mamata. In his Sreerampur rally, Modi launched a blistering attack on Mamata and raised questions over one of her paintings being sold for Rs. 1.8 crore.
Modi asked her to name the person who bought that painting. Actually, he was referring to the reports in Bengal media which suggested that Sudipta Sen, the chairman and the managing director of the Saradha Group, had bought that painting.
Modi obliquely referred to Mamata’s alleged role in Saradha chit fund scam and warned that if his government is formed in Delhi after general elections that action will be taken against those involved in this scam.
"Saradha is the other name of Saraswati, she is worshipped everywhere, and this Saradha turned into a chit fund? Mamataji, we did not expect this from you. Personally, I have always respected you. But what have you done, you have broken the dreams of the people of Bengal," said Modi.
Mamata lost no time in launching a counter attack and termed Modi a “Shaitan (devil)”. TMC spokesperson Derek O'Brien went personal and termed Modi “ the butcher of Gujarat”.
“The butcher of Gujarat could not take care of his own wife. How will he take care of this great nation?” said a livid Derek.
But what really went wrong? And is it real or just stage-managed? Let’s try to understand this.
It should not be forgotten that Muslims of West Bengal, who constitute around 25 percent of the electorate, played a crucial role in catapulting Mamata Banerjee into power.
It was because of Muslim community’s shift of allegiance, from left front to TMC, that brought to an end the political dominance of CPI(M) and allies that was continuing for last 33 years . And it was mainly because of mishandling of Singur and Nandigram agitations in which some Muslims were killed by the state police that alienated the community from the ruling left front government.
The moment reports of Modi going soft on Mamta and her govt spread, the Muslims of the state got suspicious of the real intentions of Mamata Banerjee.
Mamata Banerjee’s initial response of trying to deflect questions on possible alliance with Modi didn’t help matters either and the chorus got shriller for Mamata a to take a clear stand on post-poll alliance with Modi.
When Mamata realized that the community was getting restless, she came out with a denial on any kind of alliance with Modi in future. But the damage was done and some Muslim religious leaders started casting aspersions on her real intentions.
A worried Mamata was trying her best to quell the fears of the Muslim community and then came the shocker from Narendra Modi.
A common man may be feeling a bit surprised over sudden change of tack by Modi but political observers can’t desist from reading between the lines.
Is it aimed at helping out Mamata Banerjee before crucial Lok Sabha elections?
Mamata Banerjee knows that she can’t perform well in the Lok Sabha elections unless she has the solid backing of a majority of 25.2 percent Muslims (as per 2001 census) of the state. Even Modi is aware of that.
Politics is the game of behind the curtain machinations. It can’t be ruled out completely in this case either. It’s very much possible that Modi has decided to attack Mamata openly just to assure Muslims of the state that they have nothing to worry about.
The vitriolic rejoinders by Mamata and Derek O’Brien have further widened the chasm between Mamata and Modi in the eyes of Muslims of the state. And it serves the purpose of both Mamata and Modi.
Modi can hope for a productive post-poll tie up with Mamata only if she wins majority of seats in the state. And Modi knows, it will not help matters if he becomes a stumbling block in her way.
For Mamata Banerjee, a friendly government in Delhi will help her financially in fulfilling promises that she made to the people of west Bengal but is finding difficult to fufill for want of funds. Mamata has often complained about the UPA govt overlooking financial requirements of the state.
Even politically, she is aware of the fact that both TMC and Congress rely on the same vote banks. A congress led govt at centre can always help the state Congress unit in making a comeback in the state by wooing the Muslim community.
Since the assembly elections are far off, it makes sense for Mamata to indirectly support Modi and come out openly against him once again before state assembly elections.
Modi will be happy with Mamata even if she decides to abstain from vote of confidence or other crucial finance bills in the parliament. This will also be a kind of support from Mamata to Modi. And she will also not be seen as openly supporting Narendra Modi.
It might sound a little far-fetched but politics is a game of possibilities. And nothing could be ruled out.
Modi is a very shrewd politician and he is not known to change his stand without any reason.
So don’t get surprised if Modi and Mamata come up with a shocker post May 16.