September 23, 2012

Is Mamata giving communal politics a chance in Bengal?

Written by: Shubham Ghosh

ONE INDIA, Updated: Tuesday, September 4, 2012, 10:41 [IST]

Mamata is often heard of shouting "Don't let them start riots in Bengal!." Who are "they"? Where is riot happening in Bengal? On the contrary, an educated middle-class led by a secular Leftist leadership nurtured a socio-economic culture in Bengal which was not traditionally characterised by caste and minority politics. But in the post-Left Front times, we are clearly seeing how casteist politics is making its way in the Bengali society. We have seen how the Matua sect and Muslims are being mobilised by the Mamata Banerjee, the latter in a more fragmented way.

Mamata encouraging communal forces
The BJP, which has never succeeded in fomenting a communal way of politics in the state, has been feeling encouraged only because Mamata, today, is intending to appease the minorities. We all know soft communalism in the name of secularism will eventually lead to the growth of a hard, reactionary communalism. The Congress's ploy and the BJP's rise as a counter-force have left such examples in the past. The recent protest over the construction of Aligarh Muslim University campus in Murshidabad is a classic case.

The BJP wouldn't have to sweat it out if Mamata continues with her appeasement policy for another three-and-half years and beyond (for I believe that she will come back to power in 2016 even if with a reduced majority). Mamata, instead of focusing on overall uplift of the minorities, is actually playing a dangerous game of fragmenting the minorities by extending facilities to selected sections.

What will an allowance for the Imam do for the uplift of an average educated middle-class Muslim person? He, or she, just like any educated middle-class Hindu, will want industrialisation in the state for generation of economic opportunities. There is no point in slamming the BJP for trying out 'communal politics'. It is being given such an opportunity.

Bureaucrats see it better and clearly
If a police officer, owing to the fact that he has seen it all from close ranks, decides to write on issues he strongly feels about, then who are these chamchas to oppose? Mamata can not accuse Islam as CPI(M)'s man either for he was known for his clashes with it also. People like Ghosh and Islam have dared to expose the so-called tamasha that is going on in Bengal today in the name of pro-people action and it is natural that the state machinery would be unleashed against them in a desperate bid to keep its artificial support base intact.

Islam's daring act could also hint at the growing dissent in the Bengal police against the maladministration of Mamata. The CM, who was once at the receiving end of the fury unleashed by the police during the days of the Left rule, has transformed it into a stooge of her own. She has defended criminals belonging to own party while discouraged honest officers from properly carrying out their job (she once allegedly got a few of her followers freed from police lock-up after they were arrested for threatening the police and reprimanded officers), the normal consequence of what has been the deteriorating law and order situation.

The culture that is being nurtured by Mamata Banerjee in Bengal is a shocking one. Even as people regard her government's action as anti-democratic, it is more threatening somewhere deep down. But who can arrest the slide when the protector itself turns draconian?

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