RAM KE NAAM: BJP WILL USE ‘ALL MEANS’ TO PUSH HINDUTVA IN BENGAL - Chandan Nandy

07 May 2018
KAKINARA in West Bengal’s North 24 Parganas and Raniganj in West Burdwan district are set apart by a distance of 190 kms. The geographical hiatus apart, the demographic composition of these two places, where communal disturbances broke out in the wake of Ram Navami celebrations, are quite similar.

Add to this the growing – and deepening – levels of joblessness in the two formerly industrial belts, which for some years have turned desolate, and you have a near-perfect recipe that any political party seeking to make inroads in Bengal’s politics could stir in a communal cauldron.

Kolkata: BJP workers participate in a bike rally organised on Ram Navami in Kolkata, on March 25, 2018.

When the Bengal Sangh Parivar organised Ram Navami processions in 2017 in Kolkata and a few adjoining places, the participants, including school-going children, were armed with tridents, swords and an assortment of other sharp-edged weapons. This was unseen and unheard of in Kolkata, leave alone other sub-divisional towns of Bengal. It was a “dry run”, a mere testing of the waters.

Last year’s bellicosity of the Sangh Parivar, which has been slowly but surely seeking to get a foothold in the state since the BJP national leadership made it absolutely clear in 2014 that it will take to its characteristic politico-religious programmes to challenge the ruling Trinamool Congress, there was no doubt whatsoever that it would marshal all its resources to keep the communal pot boiling.

It was a signal – and a warning – to the Mamata Banerjee-led TMC that not only would the Sangh exploit its Hindutva programme(s) across Bengal to make electoral capital, but it would also unabashedly unleash its characteristic brand of communal politics, for which the state was primed once the Left had been dislodged from power and reduced to a rump grouping incapable of keeping its flock of cadres together.

Branded as a chief minister who had bent over backwards to appease Bengal’s nearly 30 percent-strong Muslim minority, and faced with the BJP’s imminent threat, Mamata resorted to her own brand of communal politics. She first coaxed, then cajoled, and then began to openly woo the caste Hindus who had begun to flirt with Hindutva.

The communal violence in Kakinara, Asansol and even in the tribal district of Purulia was waiting to happen as both the BJP and the TMC resorted to competitive “ethnic outbidding” in which both parties have now begun to adopt ever more extreme positions over a range of issues.

For a state that never cared for Ram Navami, this year, the smallest pockets saw young and old gather to celebrate. These issues include so-called Muslim appeasement, illegal immigration from Bangladesh, defence of Hindus, celebrating Hindu socio-religious functions, etc, that are perceived by political elites to have some bearing on elections. While the BJP has strong incentives to “demonise” the religiously homogeneous Muslims, who are perceived to be captive voters of the TMC, the ruling party has sensed that in order to offset the gains by the former it must do all it can to wean away potential Hindu voters from swinging right.

Now that the process has begun in earnest, with all the usual rhetoric in place, both the BJP and the TMC will try to outdo each other in competing for both Muslim and Hindu votes. The BJP’s high levels of anti-Muslim rhetoric is matched by the TMC’s pro-Hindu flirtations. Needless to say, competing hostilities and defence could reach a tipping point and unleash the communal genie in ways that could prove disastrous for Bengal.

Why are demographic data for Raniganj and Kakinara important from an electoral perspective? While Raniganj, which is on the Howrah-Dhanbad section of the Indian Railways, has about 22 percent Muslims, Kakinara (on the Sealdah-Naihati line) has upwards of 13 percent of people belonging to the minority community.

The Muslims in both Raniganj and Kakinara are Hindi-speaking and both places have a sizeable population of Hindi-speaking Hindus who, years ago, formed the labour force in sundry factories, paper mills and coalfields in these two distinct belts.

Over the last 20-25 years, as factories and other small-scale industries in these two thickly-populated belts ground to a halt, every available square metre of land, especially along the railways tracks, was occupied by Hindu immigrants from Bangladesh.

A giant Hanuman murti at a BJP-organised Ram puja in Bengal’s Rampurhat.

These Bengali-speaking Hindus and the bulk of the Hindi-speaking Hindus, especially in towns easily accessible from Kolkata, have today turned ardent admirers of the BJP’s brand of politics. The rapid inroads of the RSS in these areas has been matched by its target groups’ growing interest in communal politics. In other words, communal politics has found traction among sections of the Hindu population in these belts – a polarising phenomenon that will certainly creep into Kolkata over time.

Another view that has emerged is that the fomenting of trouble in Raniganj, which is part of BJP MP Babul Supriyo’s Lok Sabha constituency, was partly an outcome of the leader’s sagging popularity. Some political observers believe that party functionaries owing allegiance to Supriyo, who is Union Minister of State for Heavy Industries and Public Enterprises, “engineered” the violence using the occasion of Ram Navami and the attendant parades as a means to bolster Supriyo’s image. Supriyo went a step further: as groups battled on the streets with swords, bombs and fire, the minister posted a torrent of tweets and graphic-content videos on social media, which he explained away by claiming to be his version of the “truth”. Reports from Kolkata indicate that not just in Raniganj, Kakinara and Purulia, but the Sangh and the BJP organised Ram Navami parades at Kandi in Murshidabad and Chandannagar in Hooghly area.

The growth, extent and the violence engendered in the name of Ram has been characterised as “people’s enlightenment” by Bengal BJP chief Dileep Ghosh. His colleague in the Vishwa Hindu Parishad, Sachindranath Sinha, has claimed that the Sangh will organise a series of rallies, marches and parades till 31 March when different units of the political right will observe Hanuman Jayanti.

Chandan Nandy
217492 comments 28175 K2_VIEWS
K2_TAGGED
Super User

K2_LEAVE_YOUR_COMMENT

K2_COMMENT_ITEM

  • Gianna Gianna Monday, 07 May 2018

    What are the hours of work? http://www.caremaxhealthkenya.com/index.php/stmap_e3470.html?cialis.celexa.aurogra stratummed.com Shalev’s characters each have their own fatal flaws, which are all rooted in poor parenting. Hemda is plagued by memories of her father’s disappointment that she was not male, plus her glamorous mother’s frequent absences. Hemda’s middle-aged daughter Dina is tormented by her mother’s favouritism for Avner, even though this has only served to stifle him.

  • Santos Santos Monday, 07 May 2018

    How many are there in a book? http://voxpopulislp.com/stmap_60a10.html?viagra.vaseretic.toprol medrol 16 mg precio colombia Complicating matters is the manner in which the fiscal deadline has split Republicans. On one side are conservatives, who wish to use the specter of a shutdown as leverage to force concessions on Obamacare. On the other side is a group of pragmatists, who regard the odds of repealing Obamacare as extremely unfavorable, and fear the political fallout associated with a shutdown. 

  • Benton Benton Monday, 07 May 2018

    Get a job https://this-is-france.com/stmap_b9430.html?tenormin.viagra.inderal.yagara snow skin whitening lotion for sale "We have cooperated fully with the FERC investigation, which relates to trading activity that occurred several years ago," Barclays spokesman Marc Hazelton said in a statement. "We intend to vigorously defend this matter."

  • Coolman Coolman Monday, 07 May 2018

    We need someone with experience http://jdih.oganilirkab.go.id/index.php/stmap_017b0.html?zyloprim.viagra.ticlid.peroxide medical access uganda limited jobs Gronlund said the idea behind moving to a smaller number of interchangeable warheads was that it would make it easier to reduce the size of the nuclear "hedge," the non-deployed warheads that are held in reserve.

  • Laverne Laverne Monday, 07 May 2018

    I've got a part-time job https://www.casadeadoracao.com.br/index.php/stmap_bac90.html?demadex.elavil.viagra.zaditor keppra 500 mg fiyat Amid growing public outcry over rising losses in the Russian army, Moscow withdrew its forces under a 1996 peace agreement. The deal gave Chechnya substantial autonomy but not full independence. The Chechen chief of staff, Aslan Maskhadov, was elected president.

  • Garret Garret Monday, 07 May 2018

    How do you spell that? https://www.jalapaoecolodge.com.br/index.php/stmap_7abb0.html?levitra.compazine.serpina methotrexate 2.5 At the city morgue in central Nairobi where bodies recovered from the mall have been taken, families wept as they waited to collect the bodies of their loved ones, and several expressed frustration about how long the process was taking.

  • Haywood Haywood Monday, 07 May 2018

    I quite like cooking https://www.cabanadolago.com.br/index.php/stmap_ab8a0.html?viagra.florinef.aygestin.mefenamic-acid srx pharmacy services inc King, a staunch opponent of any immigration reform proposal that would grant amnesty to the children of illegal immigrants, has previously and frequently come under fire for controversial comments about illegal immigration.

  • Cooler111 Cooler111 Monday, 07 May 2018

    It's serious https://worldnewsnetwork.co.in/stmap_08d20.html?plavix.peel-off.cialis.escitalopram alli orlistat 60 mg hexal "By including extraneous measures that have no place in a government funding bill and that the President and Senate already made clear are unacceptable, House Republicans are pushing the Government toward shutdown," the President's office warned.

  • Marcelo Marcelo Monday, 07 May 2018

    How many are there in a book? https://poltekkesjogja.ac.id/stmap_3bbd0.html?rhinocort.femara.levitra can i buy amoxicillin over the counter in france some of you brain dead rethugs seem to forget that the PUBLIC is none to happy with the TOTAL inability of CONGRESS to do the business of the country and seem to have this "PIPE DREAM" of somehow regaining control of the SENATE and maintaining control of the HOUSE in 2014. Sorry to burst your bubble but the trend is that swing states will turn more "liberal" and PARTICULARLY the rethugs will be hoist by their own petard after the LATINO community ages yet another not quite 2 years and reacts to the failure to address immigration reform. Of course, "you" fail to understand that merely being "white" and OLD won't guarantee success in a younger demographic and that the "old white vote" decreases as they member literally DIE OFF.

  • Armando Armando Monday, 07 May 2018

    I can't get a signal http://www.bombeirodf.com.br/stmap_50f80.html?cialis.clarinex.viprofil.donepezil herbal viagra for sale uk Deadline-day signing Alvaro Vazquez could be handed the chance to make his Swansea debut in attack, while midfielder Jonjo Shelvey has overcome the thigh problem that kept him out of England Under-21 action.

The Communist movement in India has a history of almost a century after the salvos of October Revolution in Russia brought Marxism-Leninism to the people of India who were engaged in the national liberation struggle against the British colonialists. It is a complex and chequered history.

We use cookies to improve our website. Cookies used for the essential operation of this site have already been set. For more information visit our Cookie policy. I accept cookies from this site. Agree