Kolkata: West Bengal's political scene experienced a paradigm shift in 2014 with BJP, powered by a good show in the Lok Sabha polls and capitalising on the Saradha chit fund scam and Burdwan blast, emerging as a strong force and putting ruling Trinamool Congress on the backfoot.
The political scenario was dominated by the multi-crore Saradha ponzi scam as a number of ruling party leaders including Transport Minister Madan Mitra and two party Rajya Sabha MPs Srinjay Bose and Kunal Ghosh were arrested by CBI which came as a big embarrassment to the party.
The Burdwan blast of October 2, in which two suspected Jamaat-ul-Mujahideen Bangladesh militants were killed, also put the state government in a tight spot with BJP chief Amit Shah alleging that Saradha money was used.
However, the Centre said the probe was yet to reveal any such transaction where money was routed to Bangladesh to fund terror activities.
The Narendra Modi wave provided BJP, which was in the wilderness in the state, a thump of legitimacy in Bengal as it bagged nearly 17 per cent votes in the May Lok Sabha polls from a mere four per cent in the 2011 assembly elections.
In the multi-pronged fight, TMC emerged as the biggest beneficiary as the party took a giant leap forward bagging as many as 34 of the 42 Lok Sabha in the state. With BJP's emergence as a force, Bengal's political equation is witnessing a change and the Left, a formidable force in not-so distant past, is being relegated to the fringes.
Candidates of CPI-M, the big brother in the Left Front, even lost their deposits in the by-elections to Bashirhat and Chowringhee assembly seats. BJP captured Bashirhat and finished second behind TMC in Chowringhee which won the seat convincingly.
Not only from its political adversaries, the CPI-M had faced criticism from within following which the party had to expel two prominent leaders Abdur Rezzak Mollah and Lakshman Seth on the charge of “anti-party activities”.
Political analysts say going by the indications there is every chance that BJP might emerge as a key player in the next year's civic polls as well as in the 2016 assembly elections.
In view of the saffron party's surge, TMC supremo and Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee had upped the ante against the Modi government accusing it of selling out the country and attacking BJP for trying to pursue communal agenda. “They are selling the country. We have a social responsibility.
“What has the new government done? FDI in Railways. FDI in defence. Deregulating the diesel prices. They have hiked excise duty on fuel,” she had stated.
Banerjee had at the same time sought to juxtapose the performance of her government with that of BJP saying, “We are fulfilling the commitment we made to the people. We are fulfilling the promises we made in our manifesto.”
Both Lok Sabha and last round of assembly bypoll results have brought cheers in the BJP camp as the party was able to send its MP Babul Supriyo to the Lower House of Parliament on its own strength from Asansol.
The party also opened its account independently as its leader Shamik Bhattacharya was elected from Bashirhat. Notwithstanding bringing change in the state leadership by installing Adhir Ranjan Chowdhury, a known Mamata-baiter as the WBPCC president, Congress could not change its fortunes and was virtually confined to be a force to be reckoned with in Malda and Murshidabad districts.
The Saradha and Burdwan issues provided the opposition BJP, Left and Congress enough ammunition to raise their pitch against the ruling party, although TMC dubbed the CBI action as “politically motivated” and accused BJP of doing the “politics of vindictiveness”.
Banerjee herself dubbed the CBI action as “illegal and unconstitutional” and a “dangerous step to destroy democratic institutions”.
Another incident which embarrassed TMC was the utterances of party MP Tapas Pal who had threatened to get opponents raped and shot.
During the year, the state also witnessed a change of guard in Raj Bhavan as veteran BJP leader Keshri Nath Tripathi was sworn in as the governor in place of M K Narayanan.