Skip to main content

Mamata is winning as of today... remember, as of today. Communalism can be game changer

By Rajiv Shah 
Mamata Banerjee is “injured”. The two main political opponents of Mamata, the Congress-Left combine, on one hand, and the BJP, on the other, challenging what so far seemed to be her indisputable rule in the poll-bound West Bengal, are stating that it was an “accident” and Mamata was trying to use it as to gain sympathy. On the other hand, as already reported, the Trinamool Congress, which she heads, says, she was “pushed” by four to five persons and was the result of “security lapse.”
Without going into the controversy surrounding the incident, as it would take some time to reach some conclusion on what might have happened, I want to jot down a few interesting facts which I learned from a senior journalist friend from Kolkata, whom I have met a couple of times in Ahmedabad when he came down to cover elections in Gujarat. I talked to him a couple of days before the Mamata incident actually took place.
I wanted to know what was happening in West Bengal, whether the BJP would win, and what would be the fate of the Congress-Left conglomerate. The first thing this journalist – whom I am not naming because I didn’t take his permission – was, “as of today, Trinamool is winning the polls… as of today, remember”, he repeated twice. However, he said, the scenario might change.
This journalist, who spoke to me in Hindi with Bengali accent, was frank and straight. “This the first time when the Left is the third force in West Bengal. This wasn’t the case ever... even in 2019. We were the first or second force, always. However, things have changed. I witness sharp communal divisions, which was not there ever. It is being projected as a straight fight between Trinamool and BJP.”
But why does he say that the scenario might change? He said, “The main problem with Trinamool is, while Mamata remains popular, its rank and file has deserted the party and become part of BJP. In fact, Trinamool is facing the same situation which it had created earlier. Defections were not part of West Bengal politics, Trinamool introduced it. And now BJP is using this opportunism, created by Trinamool. Not only leaders, cadres, too, are shifting loyalty every day.”
I turned to the Left-Congress alliance, what role would it play – whether it would help BJP or Trinamool. According to him, his overall impression is, the Left-Congress alliance would “mostly neutralise” opposition to Trinamool, and many of those who do not want to vote for Trinamool and are broadly secular would vote for the Left or the Congress candidates. This would, hopefully, cut into potential BJP votes, he suggested, though he added, BJP would do everything in its arsenal to “communalise the situation to gain votes.”
I asked him how was Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s rally, which took place a few days back in Kolkata. According to him, rallies in West Bengal cannot tell the full story of support or otherwise to a political party. It went off well, he said. For the first time, BJP was able to fill up the the ground. However, people are used to rallies and love attending them. Money played a major role. According to his information, people were brought to the rally from outside Kolkata on a payment of Rs 400 each in buses and trucks, plus lunch.
Furfura shrine
Finally, I asked him where would the Muslim votes go. Whether the Left-Congress alliance would get Muslim votes, and wouldn’t that cut into Mamata’s votes. According to him, the Left-Congress has allied with a political party floated by the Indian Secular Front (ISF), floated by Pirzada Abbas Siddiqui, an influential cleric of the Furfura Sharif shrine in Hooghly district.
The Furfura shrine, he said, has followers both among Muslims and Hindus, just like Ajmer Sharif in Rajasthan. Pointing out that Muslims, too, are disgruntled with Mamata, he added, an alliance with ISF would ensure victory of several Left-Congress candidates. And, because Asaduddin Owaisi’s All India Majlis-e-Ittehadul Muslimeen is not in the fray, the Muslim votes wouldn’t “go waste” like they did in during Bihar elections.
And finally, I asked him what had gone wrong with the Left – I was interested in it as I too belonged was a sort of Leftist during my youth. He said, it was seen as a party of the old, hence people appeared to have little hope from it. “The Left has done intensive social service for the benefit of the marginalised sections during the pandemic, but this may not get converted into vote”, he said, adding, though, “Recognising its image of a party of the old, especially the CPI-M has put up young candidates, many of them in the age group 40-45. People have begun coming out to listen to them, which is a positive sign.”

Comments

TRENDING

Swami Vivekananda's views on caste and sexuality were 'painfully' regressive

By Bhaskar Sur* Swami Vivekananda now belongs more to the modern Hindu mythology than reality. It makes a daunting job to discover the real human being who knew unemployment, humiliation of losing a teaching job for 'incompetence', longed in vain for the bliss of a happy conjugal life only to suffer the consequent frustration.

How lead petitioner was rendered homeless when GM mustard matter came up in SC

By Rosamma Thomas*  On January 5, 2023, the Supreme Court stayed a December 20, 2022 direction of the Uttarakhand High Court to the Indian Railways and the district administration of Haldwani to use paramilitary forces to evict thousands of poor families occupying land that belonged to the railways.  Justice AS Oka remarked that it was not right to order the bringing in of paramilitary forces. The SC held that even those who had no rights, but were living there for years, needed to be rehabilitated. On December 21, 2022, just as she was getting ready to celebrate Christmas, researcher Aruna Rodrigues was abruptly evicted from her home in Mhow Cantonment, Madhya Pradesh – no eviction notice was served, and nearly 30 Indian Army soldiers bearing arms were part of the eviction process. What is noteworthy in this case is that the records establishing possession of the house date back to 1892 – the title deed with the name of Dr VP Cardoza, Rodrigues’ great grandfather, is dated November 14

Savarkar 'criminally betrayed' Netaji and his INA by siding with the British rulers

By Shamsul Islam* RSS-BJP rulers of India have been trying to show off as great fans of Netaji. But Indians must know what role ideological parents of today's RSS/BJP played against Netaji and Indian National Army (INA). The Hindu Mahasabha and RSS which always had prominent lawyers on their rolls made no attempt to defend the INA accused at Red Fort trials.

Buddhist shrines were 'massively destroyed' by Brahmanical rulers: Historian DN Jha

Nalanda mahavihara By Our Representative Prominent historian DN Jha, an expert in India's ancient and medieval past, in his new book , "Against the Grain: Notes on Identity, Intolerance and History", in a sharp critique of "Hindutva ideologues", who look at the ancient period of Indian history as "a golden age marked by social harmony, devoid of any religious violence", has said, "Demolition and desecration of rival religious establishments, and the appropriation of their idols, was not uncommon in India before the advent of Islam".

Tax buoyancy claims when less than 4% Indian dollar millionaires pay income tax

By Prasanna Mohanty  In FY18, the last year for which disaggregated income tax data is available, only 29,002 ITRs declared income above Rs 5 crore, while Credit Suisse said India had 7.25 lakh dollar millionaires (the wealth equivalent of Rs 8 crore and above) that year. Often enough, the Centre claims that demonetization in 2016 raised tax collections, improved tax efficiency, and expanded the tax base. Now RBI Monetary Policy Committee (MPC) member Ashima Goyal has also joined their ranks, attributing the “claims” of rising tax collections in the current fiscal year to “tax buoyancy” brought by the demonetisation . Do such claims have any basis in official records? The answer is unequivocal. The budget documents show the tax-to-GDP ratio (direct plus indirect tax) increased from 10.6% in FY16 (pre-demonetization) to 11.2% in FY17, remained there in FY18 (demonetization and GST fiscals), and then fell to 9.9% in FY20. In FY22, it improved to 10.8% and is estimated to drop to 10.7% in

Gandhian unease at Mahadev Desai book launch: Sabarmati Ashram may lose free space

By Rajiv Shah  A simmering apprehension has gripped the Gandhians who continue to be trustees of the Sabarmati Ashram: the “limited freedom” to express one’s views under the Modi dispensation still available at the place which Mahatma Gandhi made his home from 1917 to 1930 may soon be taken away. Also known as Harijan Ashram, a meeting held for introducing yet-to-be-released book, “Mahadev Desai: Mahatma Gandhi's Frontline Reporter”, saw speaker and after speaker point towards “narrowing space” in Gujarat for Gandhians (as also others) to express themselves. Penned by veteran journalist Nachiketa Desai, grandson of Mahadev Desai, while the book was planned to be released on January 1 and the meeting saw several prominent personalities, including actor-director Nandita Das, her scholar-mother Varsha Das, British House of Lords member Bhikhu Parekh, among others, speak glowingly about the effort put in for bringing out the book, exchanges between speakers suggested it should be rele

Civil rights leaders allege corporate loot of resources, suppression of democratic rights

By Our Representative  Civil rights activists have alleged, quoting top intelligence officers as also multiple international forensic reports, that recent developments with regard to the Bhima Koregaon and the Citizenship Amendment Act-National Register of Citizens (CAA-NRC) cases suggest, there was "no connection between the Elgaar Parishad event and the Bhima Koregaon violence." Activists of the Campaign Against State Repression (CASR) told a media event at the HKS Surjeet Bhawan, New Delhi, that, despite this, several political prisoners continue to be behind bars on being accused under the anti-terror the draconian Unlawful Activities (Prevention) Act. Addressed by family members of the political prisoners, academics, as well as social activists, it was highlighted how cases were sought to be fabricated against progressive individuals, democratic activists and intellectuals, who spoke out against "corporate loot of Indian resources, suppression of basic democratic

Why no information with Assam state agency about female rhino poaching for a year?

By Nava Thakuria   According to official claims, incidents of poaching related to rhinoceros in various forest reserves of Assam in northeast India have decreased drastically. Brutal laws against the poachers, strengthening of ground staff inside the protected forest areas and increasing public awareness in the fringe localities of national parks and wildlife sanctuaries across the State are the reasons cited for positively impacting the mission to save the one-horned rhinos. Officials records suggest, only two rhinos were poached in Kaziranga National Park and Tiger Reserve since 1 January 2021 till date. The last incident took place probably in the last week of December 2021, as a decomposed carcass of a fully-grown (around 30 years old) female rhino was recovered inside the world-famous forest reserve next month. As the precious horn was missing, for which the gigantic animal was apparently hunted down, it could not be a natural death. Ironically, however, it was not confirmed when

Kerala natural rubber producers 'squeezed', attend to their plight: Govt of India told

By Rosamma Thomas   Babu Joseph, general secretary of the National Federation of Rubber Producers Societies (NFRPS) at a recent discussion at Mahatma Gandhi University, Kottayam, explained that it is high time the Union government paid greater heed to the troubles plaguing the rubber production sector in India – rubber is a strategic product, important for the military establishment and for industry, since natural rubber is still used in the manufacture of tyres for large vehicles and aeroplanes. Synthetic rubber is now quite widespread, but styrene, which is used in making synthetic rubber and plastics, and also butadiene, another major constituent of synthetic rubber, are both hazardous. Prolonged exposure to these even in recycled rubber can cause neurological damage. Kerala produces the bulk of India’s natural rubber. In 2019-20, Kerala’s share in the national production of rubber was over 74%. Over 20% of the gross cropped area in the state is under rubber cultivation, with total

Lack of welfare schemes, BSF curbs force West Bengal farmers to migrate far away

Counteview Desk  In a representation to the National Human Rights Commission chairperson, a senior West Bengal based activist has complained that villagers living near the border with Bangladesh are forced to migrate to as far away as Mumbai and Kerala because of lack of government sensitivity towards their welfare in original villages. Giving specific instances, Kirity Roy, secretary, Banglar Manabadhikar Suraksha Mancha (MASUM), said, if the Border Security Force (BSF) had not put any restriction on agricultural activities, and if villages had properly implemented welfare schemes, these people would never migrate to other States. Text: I want to attract your immediate attention to the inhumane condition of the migrated workers of Gobra village, Swarupnagar Block in North 24 Parganas district of West Bengal to seek your urgent intervention to protect the rights of these people. Gobra is a village situated near the Indo-Bangladesh Border where the border fencing is about 500 meters i