There is an exodus in West Bengal: a possible large migration of Trinamool Congress heavyweights to BJP. With Union Home Minister Amit Shah reaching Kolkata today, the actual numbers are estimated to be bigger than the five MLAs, including Suvendhu Adhikari. While this would be incredibly helpful to the saffron party to finally clinch power in West Bengal, it can only be the second largest migration of political workers in West Bengal.
In 2011, the Mamata Banerjee ascended to power in West Bengal overthrowing the incumbent CPM that has been in power for almost 34 years. Since the beginning of the century, the left had been slowly losing their administrative grip, and at the beginning of the last decade, they lost their political grip as well. This started a decade-long migration that would not only keep TMC in power but also boost the growth of BJP.
The red party has always prided itself on having a strong ideological base and has attacked other parties for easily siding with or losing workers to BJP. The communist party leaders have decried others for enabling the growth of the saffron party, and publicly stated, on multiple occasions, that they are the only opposition to BJP’s Hindutva narrative. However, historically, the party has been losing workers and ideology to the BJP, not just in other states but also in West Bengal and Kerala.
Apart from their philosophical and ideological differences, the CPM and the BJP share a crucial similarity: their tight-knit cadre system that extends from the lowest level until the national system. This helps create mobilisation for rallies, election campaigns and protests. Therefore, when BJP first began to emerge in West Bengal’s mainstream politics, in 2014, they decided that hijacking the left’s network is easier than creating one of their own. Using threats and benefits, the BJP slowly began to attract CPM members to their cadre, and soon the left workers began migrating by choice.
It wasn’t a one-time trend either, as the left parties, mainly CPM, kept losing workers, leaders, and supporters to the saffron. Yesterday, Tapasi Mondal — CPI (M) MLA from Haldia (West Bengal) — announced her joining BJP. She said that she was “mentally exhausted in her party”. “I have been with the party during its difficult times, but the party is not reaching out to the poor,” she added. In June, this year, former CPM MP and athlete-turned-politician Jyotirmoyee Sikdar had also joined the BJP. On October, former CPM MLA Swadesh Nayak joined the saffron party, and in November 1,000 of his supporters followed suit. This is not including the 500 other members of the various left parties that have migrated to team saffron, or as the left refers to as “pro-Hindutva fascists”.
Most of the migrants political workers claim that they are losing faith in the communist parties' capacity to work for the people. In this context, the party must re-examine the conditions that allows this migration and formulate a restructuring inorder to return to their former glory.