Kolkata: A year after BJP registered a "good" show in West Bengal in 2014 Lok Sabha elections, lack of leadership, infighting and its alleged understanding with the ruling Trinamool Congress (TMC) seem to have begun to take a toll on the outfit in the key eastern state.
BJP, which was once considered a backbencher in state politics, signalled its arrival in a big way by securing 18 per cent votes in the state in the 2014 Lok Sabha polls.
Its subsequent rise can be gauged from the fact that in the Assembly bypoll to two seats held last year, BJP riding on its Lok Sabha performance for the first time single-handedly won an Assembly seat - Basirhat South - and came second in another.
It began to be seen as a potential principal opposition party in the state, replacing the CPI(M)-led Left Front.
BJP upping the ante against TMC over the Saradha chit fund scam and CBI tightening its noose around several TMC leaders in connection with the case acted as a catalyst in BJP's rise in the state, and thus ushering a paradigm shift in a Left-oriented Bengal politics.
Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee's aggressive stance against BJP too helped the party.
The saffron brigade gave a severe jolt to the ruling party when it managed to poach a TMC minister Manjul Krishna Thakur just ahead of the Bongaon Lok Sabha bypolls.
Although 2014 has been a memorable year for BJP, it soon began to lose steam. BJP state president Rahul Sinha conceded the euphoria revolving around BJP since the 2014 Lok Sabha polls has vanished.
"Yes, it is true that the euphoria which was created after our performance in last Lok Sabha polls, has taken a beating in last few months. It is due to several confusions and misconceptions spread by opposition about our alleged change of stand on Saradha scam, bonhomie between the state and the Centre. But we are confident of fighting those vested propaganda and surge ahead," Sinha told PTI.
BJP's fortune started to slip with the party's defeat in
the Bongaon bypolls with TMC retaining the seat and the Left Front managing to secure the second position.
According to a senior state BJP leader, the notion that the central BJP leadership is going soft on Saradha scam as it has entered into a deal with TMC in lieu of its support in Rajya Sabha, where BJP is in a minority, has further eroded the BJP credibility.
"When several TMC leaders were arrested by CBI for their alleged involvement in Saradha Scam, TMC general secretary Mukul Roy was not arrested. Then the propaganda that Mukul Roy might be inducted into BJP has sent out a wrong message.
"And last, but not the least, the purported bonhomie between state Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee and Prime Minister Narendra Modi has helped the opposition project BJP as the 'B team' of TMC in Bengal," a senior state BJP leader said on the condition of anonymity.
BJP national secretary Siddharth Nath Singh too conceded the perception over the Mukul Roy episode and the opposition allegation of bonhomie between BJP and TMC at the Centre has impacted the party in Bengal.
"Our government believes in cooperative federalism in order to strengthen federalism and as part of it the central government works with state governments. Now the opposition has been shouting that there has been a political understanding. It was also said that Mukul Roy will join BJP. This had created a wrong perception among the masses. But the truth is now out that Roy is not joining BJP," Singh told PTI.
CPI(M) general secretary Sitaram Yechury, however, said it is not a wrong perception but a "political match fixing" that has come out in open.
"The CBI all of a sudden has been going slow on the Saradha probe. The TMC either through open support or through walkouts are supporting BJP in Rajya Sabha. When the entire opposition has been united on the Lalit Modi issue, the TMC has maintained a complete silence. You can't fool the masses all the time," Yechury said.
CPI(M) politburo member Mohammed Salim also added that the alleged silence of BJP national president Amit Shah during a BJP meet in Howrah last week, is ample evidence of a political understanding between TMC and BJP.