ISSN (Print) - 0012-9976 | ISSN (Online) - 2349-8846

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Communal Politics Gaining Ground in West Bengal

The steady decline of the left and the Congress has created a political vacuum in West Bengal. While the Trinamool Congress government consolidated its support base with important populist measures, some of its pro-Muslim policies drew flak from a section of the Hindus. The Bharatiya Janata Party is trying to enter into Bengal politics by attacking the TMC on its appeasement policy and is trying to whip up pro-Hindu sentiments. With the weakening of secular democratic forces, the polarisation of the society on communal lines is taking place with much vigour.

After the landslide victory in Uttar Pradesh and Uttarakhand and forming the government in four states after the assembly elections of 2017, the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) is now focusing its attention on West Bengal. The recent move to send 40 of its national leaders to lend support to its political activities in Bengal is part of that initiative. Led by Union Home Minister Rajnath Singh, these leaders will tour various parts of the state and try to mobilise people in support of their party. BJP is aiming at securing around 12 of the total 42 seats in the 2019 Lok Sabha elections. In 2014, the BJP had won three seats in Bengal. But, in a state, where the opposition parties (Congress and the left) are steadily on a decline, a situation has arisen where BJP might come up as a powerful opposition. Buoyed with its spectacular performance in the recent elections, the BJP now wants to seize this opportunity.

The BJP’s political offensive in the state has put Mamata Banerjee in a quandary. The chief minister and the ruling TMC supremo, who does not let go any opportunity to attack the BJP to protect her party’s non-communal credentials, is now tentative in her approach towards the BJP. Earlier, before the five states went to poll, Mamata went into an overdrive to form an alliance at the national level against the BJP. Though the ostensible reason was to oppose the Modi government’s demonetisation policy, she was using the opportunity as a testing ground for forming a broad alliance against the BJP before the 2019 Lok Sabha elections. But the move backfired badly. Arvind Kejriwal’s Aam Aadmi Party, which joined Mamata’s campaign against the BJP, backed out of it immediately after the arrest of Sudip Bandyopadhyay, a senior Member of Parliament (MP) of the TMC, allegedly involved in a Ponzi scheme (Rose Valley case). Moreover, Mamata’s campaign in her home state also failed to mobilise people around demonetisation. A diffident Mamata maintained silence for some days once the Uttar Pradesh election results were out.

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Updated On : 26th Apr, 2017
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