Bengal BJP’s attack on Abhijit Banerjee may backfire

Nobel Prize winner in economics, Abhijit Banerjee. AFP Photo

After its initial silence, BJP has started its verbal onslaught against Nobel prize winner economist Abhijit Banerjee most likely for his critical views of the Narendra Modi government’s economic policies. Although Rail Minister Piyush Goyal made headlines for his comments that Banerjee was a Left-leaning individual, it is the Bengal BJP leaders who have resorted to personal attacks in their criticism of the economist. BJP, which is keen on coming to power in Bengal, is shooting itself on the foot by attacking Banerjee.

The indecent personal attacks on Banerjee by a section of state BJP leaders have not gone down well with Bengalis especially the educated urban voters and civil society members. Taking a queue from Goyal BJP national secretary and former state BJP president Rahul Sinha decided to up the ante and ended up infuriating the educated Bengalis.

“I wonder whether getting married twice and having a foreigner wife has become a criterion for winning the Nobel prize,” said Sinha. Earlier state BJP president Dilip Ghosh also courted controversy by describing Banerjee as a “half Bengali” stating that his mother is a Marathi.

This may dampen BJP’s political fortunes in the state in two ways. First by making such uncalled for remarks the state BJP leadership is providing fresh ammo to the Trinamool Congress (TMC) for labeling it as “anti-Bengali.” TMC general secretary Partha Chatterjee’s remark over the issue made this evident.

“ Is he (Banerjee) being targeted by BJP in such an indecent manner only because he is a Bengali?” said Chatterjee.

The CPI(M) and Congress state leaders also slammed BJP for such comments and questioned their capacity to understand his works in economics.

The state BJP leaders also made a similar mistake by attacking another Bengali Nobel Laureate Amartya Sen. Then the state BJP president Dilip Ghosh questioned Sen’s contribution to the country and also claimed that nobody understands his works in Bengal.

Apart from the risk of being labeled as “anti-Bengali” by its political rivals BJP’s attack on Banerjee has also severely irked the educated Bengalis. The urban educated voters and the civil society members of the state take pride in the fact that starting from Rabindranath Tagore three Bengalis have won the Nobel prize. Such derogatory remarks against Banerjee by BJP will not be of any help in making the saffron party more acceptable to educated Bengalis.

 

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