BJP president Amit Shah has said that Bengalis needed to change their nature of electing the same party in the state for decades. Taking a dig at the Trinamool Congress, which is often at loggerheads with the BJP-led Centre, Shah also insinuated that Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee was indulging in divisive politics.
The Hindu quoted him as saying, "I feel that Bengalis need to change their nature and take decisive steps. I am talking about changing [their] nature because West Bengal is the only state where governments have been changed only twice since Independence; once Congress was displaced and Red (Left) government came to power, and on the other occasion Red was replaced by the Green (TMC)."
Not only is Shah's remarks on Bengal's political history factually incorrect, he is also forgetting that many other states have elected his party repeatedly.
While the Trinamool Congress was voted to power in 2011 for the first time and in 2016 for the second time, the Left had indeed ruled for 32 years. But before that, the state government in West Bengal had changed three times. The Congress was voted to power thrice, and was in power between 1952 to 1967. From 1967 to 1971, it was the United Front that was in power in West Bengal. The Congress ruled the state again between 1971 to 1977. It was only then that the Left ruled for 32 years till 2011. So technically four parties have ruled over West Bengal since Independence. (Get details here).
In Shah's home state of Gujarat, the BJP has been in power since 1995 for 22 years, and was elected to government during the 1995, 1998, 2002, 2007 and 2012.
Before that the Janata Dal was in power for five years between 1990 to 1995. Meanwhile, the Congress was in power for 28 years in the state between 1962 and 1990, winning six elections in a row.
Even in Madhya Pradesh the BJP has been in power for 14 years after winning three consecutive elections.
In Chhattisgarh, the BJP has been elected to power thrice since 2003 and has been effectively ruling the state for 14 years.
Shah's comments are significant since they come at a time when the BJP is working slowly to make inroads into Bengal politics, where it has not fared very well till now. While the BJP got more than 30% vote share in the recent by-polls in Bengal in April, it is still has a long way to go in the state.