Has Mamata’s injury backfired on the TMC?

Amitabh Tiwari
·4-min read

West Bengal Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee has returned to campaigning after she was ‘injured’ in Nandigram last week. She resumed her poll campaign in Kolkata on a wheelchair and thundered that an ‘injured tiger’ (or tigress) is even more dangerous.

She led a rally from the Gandhi Statue on Mayo Road to the Hazra Crossing. Thousands of supporters, including her nephew Abhishek, joined the rally along the five-km stretch in the heart of the city.

Mamata set the tone of the padyatra, saying, “Bhanga Pae Khela hobe [Game will be played with a broken leg]”.

Addressing her party supporters at Hazra at the end of the rally, the Bengal chief minister said doctors had advised her bed-rest. “If I take bed rest then, who will reach the people and those behind the conspiracy will succeed,” she said.

“Have faith in me. I will go around entire West Bengal on a wheelchair with a broken leg. The evil forces should be defeated and conspiracy around Bengal should be foiled.”

The Trinamool Congress believes that the incident will rejuvenate the cadre and earn them sympathy votes. While the former is correct to assume, the latter is not so straight forward.

The incident in Nandigram which caused injury to Mamata Banerjee was an accident and not a planned attack, according to the report of two poll observers submitted to the Election Commission on Saturday.

The TMC had charged the EC of adopting ‘partiality’ in conducting the election process.

The EC has suspended the in-charge of security for the Bengal chief minister with immediate effect. Charges are likely to be framed against the IPS officer for lapses that led to Mamata Banerjee's leg injury in Nandigram on March 10.

The swift action of the EC is one of the reasons why many believe TMC may not be able to gain significant political mileage and sympathy factor in the ensuing polls. The voters are now smart enough to sift the real issues from made out issues.

Netizens jumped at the opportunity to flood Twitter with memes and jokes around Mamata’s injury, thus thwarting any attempts by TMC to gain sympathy.

An ABP CVoter survey shows that 34% believed that it was a drama, whereas 44% believed that the incident was genuine. Almost 12% said Sanyukta Morcha will benefit, while 10% said it's difficult to say who will benefit.

As per a Crowdwisdom360 survey, 41% believe it will benefit TMC, while 37% believe it will benefit the Bharatiya Janata Party. Almost 13% said its difficult to predict who will benefit while 9% said it will benefit neither.

BJP leader Kailash Vijayvargiya on Saturday said that the attempt by Trinamool Congress to create controversy has backfired.

"Reports of district administration and EC have called it an accident. Mamata-ji has said that she was pushed. It's a controversy between governance and administration. This attempt of stirring controversy and gain sympathy has backfired," he said after BJP's central election committee meeting in Delhi.

"We are not worried. Those (TMC) who tried to use the wrong means to gain sympathy from people should be worried. They have been exposed," he added when asked if Banerjee's injury could swing voters in her favour.

On the other hand, the central leadership of the BJP has directed its West Bengal leaders not to discuss the alleged attack last week on Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee at Nandigram “too much” publicly as it could help her gain “unnecessary” sympathy, as per a report by ThePrint.

There is another twist to the tale. As per a report in the Sunday Guardian, apart from Nandigram, the TMC supremo is considering contesting the election from the Tollygunge seat in south Kolkata as well, given that she is currently injured and will not be able to campaign aggressively in Nandigram.

If this report turns out to be true, then it suggests that even the TMC is not sure whether this injury incident will reap them political dividends. If she won’t get sympathy factor in Nandigram, where this incident occurred, how will Mamata benefit from this incident across the whole of Bengal.

The jury is still out on whether the injury incident will benefit the TMC or the BJP. Both the parties hope to gain politically from it. The BJP is terming it as drama and portraying it as TMC’s nervousness, while the latter TMC is claiming it to be a conspiracy to ‘kill Mamata Banerjee’.

The BJP has already signalled that it doesn’t want to focus any more on this issue. TMC has been making it a big issue: however, actions speak louder than words. A second seat for Mamata would prove that even TMC doesn’t believe the issue will get them any dividends.


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