The BJP government at the Centre received a setback from the Supreme Court on Tuesday as Chief Justice of India Ranjan Gogoi directed the CBI to not arrest Kolkata Police Commissioner Rajeev Kumar. Reacting to the development, West Bengal Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee called it a moral victory for her government in the ongoing row with the CBI.
The development in the Supreme Court came as an early setback for the BJP and Prime Minister Narendra Modi since both expected the top court to allow the CBI to arrest Kumar, who’s believed to be very close to Banerjee. But, the trouble for the BJP appears to have just started ahead of its electoral battle for the Lok Sabha polls in Bengal.
The recent crackdown by the CBI against the Bengal government saw several high profile opposition leaders rally around Banerjee. Notable amongst them were Congress President Rahul Gandhi, RJD’s Tejashwi Yadav, Samajwadi Party’s Akhilesh Yadav, Janata Dal Secular’s HD Kumaraswamy, MNS Supremo Raj Thackeray and Delhi Chief Minister Arvind Kejriwal.
Taking to Twitter Gandhi had written, “I spoke with Mamata Di tonight and told her we stand shoulder to shoulder with her. The happenings in Bengal are a part of the unrelenting attack on India’s institutions by Mr Modi & the BJP. The entire opposition will stand together & defeat these fascist forces.”
This appears to have brought the Trinamool Congress closer to Rahul Gandhi as Banerjee hinted in her latest statement. Welcoming Tejashwi and Kanimozhi of DMK in Kolkata, Banerjee said that it was ‘our duty to work together.’ She, according to NDTV, went on to add, “And work with the Congress at the national level.”
The BJP has been projected to win significantly fewer seats in this year’s Lok Sabha polls than what it won five years ago. According to at least four opinion polls, the BJP-led NDA is unlikely to secure an absolute majority in the parliament, making Modi’s dream of becoming India’s prime minister for the second time incredibly difficult.
Modi and his party had set their sight on West Bengal to make up for the predicted deficit that the BJP may suffer in states such as Uttar Pradesh, Rajasthan, Madhya Pradesh, Chhattisgarh and Gujarat.
The BJP was hoping to take advantage of the split in secular votes in Bengal since there were no possibilities of the TMC and the Congress coming together in the Lok Sabha polls up until now. But, with Banerjee hinting at a possible tie-up with the Congress, the BJP’s trouble has deepened in Bengal.
Banerjee’s comments hinting at working with the Congress at the national level may also be seen as her approval for Rahul Gandhi’s candidature for the prime minister’s post.