By Arun Srivastava
West Bengal has been witness to political violence for decades. In fact the political violence has been endemic in the state. The worst phase of violence that the state observed was in sixties and seventies when hundreds of students and youths lost their lives to police bullets or class war between warring left groups and parties, apart from encounters with the state police..
But in the wake of the ensuing election for the assembly, the state is witnessing emergence of new type of social violence; caste war and intra community fighting. While the political violence could not divide the social fabric and tenet of the society, the latest move has the potential threat to divide even a family on party loyalty basis. This is the gift of the BJP.
This time a Bengali Hindu is perceived as a potent enemy of a non-Bengali Hindu, non-Bengali Hindu inhabitants will have to face the fury of new migrant non-Bengali Hindus. Even the chasm between Bengali Muslims and Non-Bengali Muslims has started widening. The BJP is even trying to split the namashudra and matua communities on class line. Unlike their brotheren in Bihar or Uttar Pradesh the Bengali Dalits and backward castes have never been divided class. They are basically Bengalis and the people of the state always boasted of their cultural tenets and ethos.
Unfortunately an attempt is being made by BJP to play the game of neo rich and the poor dalit and OBC. Those matua people who have already got Indian citizenship are being projected as separate identities than the other matuas waiting for the benefit. Even in the suburbs of Kolkata ,the new non-Bengalis who are comparatively new comer to the state are being pitted against the old non-Bengali Hindus who migrated to the state centuries ago.
The turncoats from the Trinamool Congress have created a confusing situation in the state. The schism between the original leaders of the BJP and the turncoats, the new entrants from Trinamool Congress, has deepened to such an extent that the old leaders are finding it tough to follow the dictates of the party leadership. These leaders nurse the view that the campaigning style and culture of the leaders have alienated the party from the people of the state. The turncoats are more dependent on muscle and firearm power than striving for personal contacts and win over the heart and minds of the common people.
The old timers are afraid that this election would witness massive violence. The TMC turncoats are determined to go all out to grab the power. Already Amit Shah while addressing a meeting of the party workers came out with the suggestion to resort to “soft speaking and even threatening the people” to make them rally behind the party. They allege that the national general secretary Kailash Vijayvargia instead of identifying with dedicated old timers or the leaders who had formed the party and nursed it for years, has been more comfortable with the turncoats. They cite the case of Rakesh Singh who was arrested in drugs case. He was a congress candidate in the last Calcutta corporation election. Recently he switched over to the BJP. Now he is the most trusted lieutenant of Vijayvargiya.
This small incident has damaged the image of the party beyond expectation. If the police are to be believed an associate of BJP leader Rakesh Singh, close aide of Vijayvargia, had promised Pamela Goswami and another man tickets in the upcoming Assembly elections if they paid Rs2 crore each. A meeting was also fixed between the two and a central minister who was in the city on Friday, the day Goswami, a leader of the BJP’s youth wing, was arrested for alleged possession of cocaine. The police have contacted the man and prima facie found that his version matched that of Goswami regarding the promised ticket, according to reports.
Though the BJP central leadership has been quite optimist of a better performance, the TMC leaders are jubilant that the internal-contradiction would weaken the party’s electoral performance. Nevertheless the TMC leadership is scared of holding election in eight phases. They hold that the BJP would use police and election machinery to rig the elections. In 2016 election, the EC had held the election in six phases. This decision has raised suspicion on the intentions of the EC and Mamata Banerjee has even questioned the EC’s decision. There is no denying the fact that the decision was taken to suit the convenience of the BJP. She even questioned; “Has this been done with the advice of Modi and Amit Shah?”
Strange enough the EC has decided to hold three phase election in South 24 Parganas, where TMC is strong. This has obvious implication. The EC has also brought in Vivek Dubey, the same police officer who was the observer for Bengal during the 2019 Lok Sabha polls. Mamata said; “We all know the role he had played then”.
The old timers also feel that serving of the CBI notice to Rujira, wife of Abhishek Banerjee, nephew of Mamata Banerjee was the wrong move. The government agency should have refrained from taking this step. It has enraged and hurt the Bengali sensibility. People feel that Amit Shah resorted to this revenge action only after he was served with a defamation suit filed by Abhishek. Mamata holds; “The BJP has the power of the agencies (central). But the central government cannot misuse its powers for a state election. If you do this, you will make a blunder and face the music”.
It was after this dirty play of the CBI that the TMC projected the election fight as the struggle for protection and preservation of the prestige of the daughter of the state with the BJP, a party of outsiders. A feeling has gripped the Bengalis that the BJP was trying to outrage their prestige.
The people have also not taken Modi’s jibe that politics in West Bengal “does not allow Bengalis to worship Durga Maa” is being seen as an affront to the Bengali culture and social norms. His barb had its immediate impact on the paribortan yatra which he was flagged off from Sahaganj. Local people virtually kept away from the event. The party leaders are in fact worried at the poor response the five Paribortan Yatras have received.
This has in fact emboldened Mamata Banerjee. Retaliating to Modi’s spikes, she said; “A party of a danob (monster) and a doityo (demon), a Rabon (mythical monarch and principal antagonist in Ramayan) and a danob. Just the two of them running this country,” at Sahaganj. She is hopeful that the Bengal debacle for the BJP would be the beginning of its end around the country, telling people that a “fate much worse” than that of Donald Trump awaits him. (IPA Service)