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Bengal on the boil due to Mamata Banerjee’s communal political leadership

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Mamata Banerjee must take the lion’s share of the blame for Ram Navami violence

Those who play with fire are likely to be consumed by it. While the aphorism is applicable to all political parties operating in the once-glorious State of West Bengal, the ruling Trinamul Congress, in power since 2011 under Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee, must introspect the most on this count.

The death of one person and serious injuries to half-a-dozen including police officers across the State where clashes erupted on Sunday in Purulia, North 24-Parganas and Hooghly are a direct fall-out of the Trinamul’s attempts to hijack Ram Navami processions and play its version of the Hindutva card in the face of signs of a growing surge in support for the BJP and its affiliates in towns and villages.

That Banerjee’s party has pandered in the most communal way to the orthodox, patriarchal and supremacist Muslim religious-political leadership in the State over the past seven years and has refused to crackdown on illegal migration into West Bengal is no secret. Its critics accuse it of deliberately following such a strategy aimed at least in part at changing the demographic of the State. Whether that is true or not, all of this was bound to have a reaction.

Various Sangh Parivaraffiliates on the ground including the BJP in the political sphere have been in ‘mission mode for a while now in Bengal to prevent what they see as the marginalisation of Hindu cultural traditions and the emasculation of the political power, economic opportunities and legal rights of ordinary citizens belong to the majority community in the State.

Last year, the Ram Navami processions organised by Sangh/BJP helped make the point politically that there was a new challenger to the Trinamul Congress given the withering away of the Congress and the precipitous decline of the Left.

Over the past 12 months, RSS shakhas have grown exponentially and the BJP’s ideology, agitprop and central leadership has attracted millions to its fold though its organisational weaknesses and the rabid statements of a section of its local leadership have prevented a major electoral breakthrough.

The Trinamul Congress, which has also lost key leaders to the BJP, is working overtime to ensure its main opponent’s organisational heft remains compromised and its State leaders are pushed into taking extreme stands even as it portrays itself as simpatico to the ‘moderates’ in the majority community. Its, in part successful thanks largely to a blatant use of state power, cynical ploy to hijack the Ram Navami celebrations need to be located in this context.

Ergo, Sunday saw Trinamul activists too organise Ram Navami processions while many saffron shows were banned on grounds that they comprised ‘armed’ participants leading to clashes with police. That is complete nonsense.

Miniature or indeed full-size trishuls and the like are religious/cultural symbols, not arms, and ‘banning’ them on such a specious plea is akin to banning kirpans for Sikhs or swords/chains for Muslims during, say, tazia processions.

To add insult to injury, many Trinamul-organised showshad activists brandishing Hindu religious symbols including trishuls/swords. Mamata Banerjee is playing with fire and West Bengal is likely to pay the price.

Courtesy: Daily Pioneer

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