By Tirthankar Mitra
Doublespeak is now a part and parcel of politics. Though it has come to stay it is yet find the nod of the common man whose vote brings about regime change. But it turned up like a bad penny in the shape of carving out more than one state from another and a view point opposed to it both emanating from BJP even as the date of a ding dong poll battle for Tripura inches closer.
Given the minority community or a large section of it voting en bloc for Trinamool Congress and it’s charismatic chief Mamata Banerjee, influencing the polarisation of votes of the people with religion as the deciding factor seems to be the hidden agenda of the saffron camp. Its aim is to let the committed voters of Trinamool be straws in the wind which is possible only if they are fragmented in more than one state are carved out of West Bengal.
These yet to formed states in question have been planned to be carved out of West Bengal and Assam. But BJP leaders in West Bengal and Assam are speaking in divergent voices.
If the ayes can precede the nays, then it was BJP legislator from Kurseong Bishnuprasad Sharma who has recently raised the demand for a separate state carved out of West Bengal. There are nays too like Assam chief minister Himanta Biswa Sarma during his campaign in Tripura has firmly ruled out the idea of another such state being carved out of the state he belongs to.
Sarma is no pushover in the saffron circles. If he has no love lost for the minority votes or those seeking Bodoland or similar demands, his reasons are based on hard rocks. The so called separatists are followers of the saffron camp now. And Sarma has no desire to upset his apple cart. But some local BJP leaders in West Bengal nurse different ideas. A separate state namely Gorkhaland inclusive of the queen of the hills Darjeeling to be cut out of north Bengal has been the rallying cry of a section of populace of this region.
It is another matter that the roots of Gorkhaland proponents cannot be traced to thoughts or works of Sri Chaitanya Dev, Sri Ramakrishna Paramhansa, Swami Vivekananda or Rabindranath Tagore- all icons of Bengal though their appeal is nationwide and even beyond. The origin of the fervour of the demand for Gorkhaland can be dated to the time period when China was on the point of regaining control of British colonies not far from it and some of it’s inhabitants were seeking a haven for themselves.
As the saffron stain is spreading in north Bengal, the BJP leadership is dangling the twin lollipops of Gorkhaland and Kamtapuri before a section of populace of Darjeeling and Coochbehar for years now. If the recent election results are anything to go by, then the takers of the ideas of these proposed states are a section of the populace who feel that the arming some of the inhabitants of these areas with the promises of development in the yet to be formed states will reap political dividends in the days to come
Ever since it came to power in 2011, demand for Gorkhaland been a thorn in the flesh of the Trinamool Congress government. So far, the ruling party of the state has been unable to win in any parliamentary constituency of the proposed state of Gorkhaland.
The surrender of Kamtapur People’s Party leader Jiban Singh to state government representatives has been a tactical move for buying time. But the fact remains that Singh has not budged from the demand for a Kamtapuri state.
The state BJP leaders have been inciting the demand for both these states with the aim of influencing and altering the votes of minority community reported to be voting en masse for Trinamool Congress. Strangely enough, senior state BJP Ieaders like leader of the Opposition Subhendu Adhikari, state party chief Sukanta Majumdar and national vice-president Dilip Ghosh are shying away from it.
For a bigger picture is in their sights. They are only too aware of the apprehension of another partition would ignite painful memories of the partition of 1947 among the Bengali speaking populace. Such a situation would hand over to the Trinamool leadership what in football parlance is described to be a “sitter”. The state BJP leadership cannot afford to do it.
To make matters worse, support for such proposed partitions from senior BJP leaders would lead to the disowning the contribution of Dr Syama Prasad Mookerjee of foiling the plan of entire Bengal being made a part of Pakistan. In the long run, the state saffron camp would stand to lose the support of a community whom BJP seeks to make into a vote bank.
Indeed if BJP’s separatist plan unfolded then four administrative areas would emerge from West Bengal. They are namely the states of Gorkhaland, Kamtapuri, Rarh Banga with parts of red earth districts of Purulia and Bankura (voiced by Bishnupur BJP MP Soumitra Khan and party MLA from Bankura Niladri Sekhar Dana) and rest of the state of what had once been “undivided” West Bengal.
The state saffron unit will find itself between a rock and a hard place once these demands are voiced from a public platform in election time. But occasional voicing them will help it catch the Trinamool state government on the wrong foot.
If creation of new states will help break the minority vote bank of Trinamool, such an exercise will considerably erode BJP’s existing support base as well. Small wonder, the state saffron camp prefers sniping operations in this regard rather than risk losing its vote bank it has wrested from Congress and the Left Front as post-poll share percentages indicate.
The ruling dispensation has not covered itself with glory if the track record of its completion of development projects in areas sought to be separated from West Bengal is anything to go by. The irate reception of the team of “Didir Doot” in these districts are pointers to it.
But the BJP is in no mood to jettison the demand of statehood carved out of West Bengal where the Gorkhaland demand is the most significant. It helped the saffron camp gain a toehold in the state when it was a Red citadel. Ineptitude and misgovernance of the Trinamool dispensation helped further spreading of the saffron footprint in West Bengal. It is a win win situation for the BJP so far.
The doublespeak of the saffron camp on new states in West Bengal and Assam is in so many words part of a carrot and stick campaign. A studied silence on the part of senior BJP leaders to create a new state being the carrot while a renewed chorus for it from followers of the saffron camp is the stick. (IPA Service)