Battleground Bengal: TMC heavily banking on perception-oriented campaigning as 4 poll phases remain

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Battleground Bengal: TMC heavily banking on perception-oriented campaigning as 4 poll phases remain
Kolkata:  With four phases of the Lok Sabha polls in West Bengal remaining, the Trinamool Congress seems to be heavily banking on perception-oriented campaigning to tide over the anti-incumbency factor.

When the Calcutta High Court’s Division Bench cancelled 25,753 teaching and non-teaching jobs in state-run schools the Trinamool Congress leadership, including Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee, accused a section of the judiciary of operating in a biased manner in the interest of a particular political party.

The Trinamool Congress’ General Secretary Abhishek Banerjee described the Calcutta High Court verdict as ‘order-fixing’ and ‘court-fixing’.

In fact, the Calcutta High Court’s Division Bench of Chief Justice TS Sivagnanam recently admitted a petition filed by CPI(M) Rajya Sabha member and senior advocate Bikash Ranjan Bhattacharya requesting the court to take suo motu cognisance of the anti-judiciary comments made by Mamata Banerjee in the last couple of days.

Political observers say that the exercise is aimed at projecting a section of the judiciary as “villains” with an understanding that the court verdict can be a major blow to the ruling party in the midst of polls.

As part of the same perception-oriented campaign, the judiciary was projected as a messiah after the apex court Division Bench, headed by Chief Justice of India, DY Chandrachud, put an interim stay on the order nixing jobs by the Calcutta High Court.

The Trinamool Congress leadership, including the Chief Minister, conveniently ignored the loaded observations of the Supreme Court that pertained to “systemic fraud” in the recruitment process.

They highlighted only the interim-stay and described the order as a “great relief”.

Legal minds say that this is an attempt to deliberately misinterpret the top court’s order where an “interim stay” is projected as “setting aside” of the order

Legal experts point out that the Supreme Court directed the West Bengal School Service Commission (WBSSC) to check out if there was any secondary material available to segregate valid appointments of the 25,753 people.

Legally this means that the future of the valid appointees will be secured only if the WBSSC can establish in court that it has been able to segregate the valid appointments through a justified method.

The second issue being highlighted by the ruling party is the successive sting-operation videos released recently where people can be seen and heard saying that the protests by Sandeshkhali women against sexual harassment by a section of Trinamool Congress leaders were orchestrated by the BJP in West Bengal.

In one of the videos, a local BJP leader Gangadhar Kayal was seen and heard saying that he was assigned to persuade some local women to orchestrate the movement, by Leader of the Opposition in West Bengal Assembly, Suvendu Adhikari.

Kayal was prompt in claiming that the video was fake and modulation of his voice was done using Artificial Intelligence. He also approached the CBI seeking an investigation in the matter.

The BJP leadership even challenged the Trinamool Congress to approach the court with the video.

However, the Trinamool Congress is heavily publicising the video to drive the perception that the Sandeshkhali protests were orchestrated by the BJP to give the ruling party and the state government a bad name.

In the second sting-operation video a couple of women from Sandeshkhali were seen claiming that they signed the sexual harassment complaints without understanding what was written there.

The Trinamool Congress is publicising that video and accusing the BJP of compromising with the dignity of women at Sandeshkhali for political gains.

While questions are being raised about the authenticity of these sting operation videos, observers point out that two important aspects are being carefully avoided by the ruling party in this perception-oriented campaign.

The first aspect is that the Calcutta High Court had ordered a CBI probe into the complaints of sexual harassment, illegal grabbing of land and extortion at Sandeshkhali only after detailed hearing on a number of PILs filed in the matter.

Although, the West Bengal government challenged that Calcutta High Court order in the Supreme Court, the latter refused to stay the order and even questioned why the state government had come as the petitioner for protecting the interests of some private individuals.

The second aspect is that while there were a large number of women protesting at Sandeshkhali the number of women featuring in the sting-videos is few.


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