By Sushil Kutty
After 2011, probably the fiercest political-electoral dangal will be witnessed in West Bengal, which has never been a state for the faint-hearted or the lily-livered. If the communists wrote the rules on bloody elections, Mamata’s Trinamool fine-tuned them. A decade later, it’s the BJP which is Kindling new chapters in the run-up to the elections though the BJP claims it’s Mamata’s Trinamool which is behind the murders and the mayhem, which the Trinamool in turn cannot refute!
Convenient, say BJP’S opponents. Wherever there’s the Bharatiya Janata Party, there’s blood spilled. A killing wind follows the BJP to wherever it pitches tent. And then that land becomes the killing field. Cannot help it, says the BJP, it’s BJP and RSS who are getting slaughtered, by the Left in Kerala, and the TMC in West Bengal. The other week a BJP worker’s aged mother got hammered horribly by some people nasty and Amit Shah’s party promptly said “Trinamool goons.”
The Trinamool said bollocks, but the damage was done. Mamata Banerjee had to reaffirm she was ‘Bengal’s daughter.” That triggered an “insider-outsider” to and fro diatribe. The BJP just managed to slither through (like Mithun’s King Cobra) with calling Mamata “Chunavi Hindu!” Ultimately, the BJP always has to come back to Hinduism, nay Hindutva, to get past crooked corners, and through to choc-a-bloc village squares.
So, now, Mamata Banerjee has to explain why she’s chanting the Chandi mantra? The BJP is a hog for Hindutva sideshows. Only the BJP can sport Hindu signature items. Like the colour saffron and the Hindu shawls that get wrapped around Modi and Shah’s shoulders. Mamata is called “Mumtaz” and then there’s an outcry when she chants the Chandi mantra. Mamata cannot converse with the 70% Hindu electorate of Nandigram because she’s not BJP!
But if she disregards the objections and campaigns in Hindu-dominated areas, she’s mocked with the monicker “Chunavi Hindu.” She’s bracketed with Rahul Gandhi, who made temple-hopping the best of elections, and told she’s not qualified to address Hindus for votes. What the heck? C’mon Man, as President Joe Biden would say, that’s not fair, go check with the Election Commission of India. If Subendu Adhikari can beg for Hindu votes in Nandigram’s Hindu strongholds, Mamata can ask for them, too, cannot she?
As it is, Mamata has been lured into a ‘Nandigram contest’, where 70% Hindu is pitted against 30% Muslim and where Christians do not count because their numbers are so discountable! But why blame Mamata for asserting her Hindu roots for Hindu votes? Just because she’s counted among the “secular” doesn’t mean she cannot ask the Hindu to vote for her, tell him she chants the Chandi mantra!
Everybody knows Mamata is Hindu. Even Amit Shah and Narendra Modi. So what if she goes to Muslim enclaves and Sufi mazars. That’s her prerogative. Nobody’s is stopping Shah and Modi from doing the same. Unless, it’s the RSS and the VHP and the Bajrang Dal which wouldn’t like Modi to accept greetings from a man in a skullcap. Don’t forget the world is plural not singular.
Then, again, if anybody is responsible for what’s termed communal polarisation, it’s the right of centre BJP. Look around. Look at the electoral statistics. You’ll find a division in Hindu votes. The secular Hindu and the Hindutva Hindu. The battle is to consolidate both into a single block. The problem is then it becomes communal.
The BJP may deny it as much as it wants to, but the fact remains that divisive politics of the communal variety got a shot in the arm with Narendra Modi’s 2014 general elections victory. Modi became Prime Minister and thereafter everytime there has been an election, communal rhetoric of the vitriolic has been the norm rather than exception.
Modi doesn’t have to say or do anything. His mere presence is tinder to light the spark. Almost all elections held in India after May 2014 have had a communal tinge. Rival parties assume that the battle will be intensely communal because the BJP rides the RSS tiger, and the RSS is supposedly intrinsically Hindutva, understandably anti-Muslim/Christian, ergo definitely communal!
And it serves both, the BJP as well as the rival front/party. Consolidation of Hindu votes helps the BJP and a coalescing of Muslim votes benefits the rival front/party. Like in West Bengal, where there’s polarisation to consolidate both Hindu and Muslim votes in separate and exclusive blocks. The BJP and the TMC are locked in a bitter no-holds barred fight.
According to an editorial in a dominant Bengali daily, “Soaring political rhetoric has already set the tone for an intensely competitive Assembly election in West Bengal.” Add to that the communal masala which combined with the political juice extract is a deadly cocktail that both rival political parties are eminently capable of mixing and tossing it off in one bottoms-up gulp, or in several medium sips for maximum electoral advantage. Bottomline is the Chandi mantra unsettles the Hindutva-hugging Bharatiya Janata Party. (IPA Service)