West Bengal Scenario

The West Bengal Scenario West Bengal today presents a picture that is novel and unprecedented. After the victory of the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) at the Lok Sabha polls and its unexpected success in West Bengal, its influence is growing. The Trinamul Congress (TMC), despite its opposition to the SEZ and its declared resolve to fight against the politics of division on religious lines, has lost much of its ground to the BJP, and there are reports of many Trinamul functionaries joining the BJP, ostensibly in order to enjoy the loaves and fishes of power. Mamata Banerjee's policy of giving some privileges to Muslim religious priests, Imams, has scarcely anything to do with improving the lot of Muslims in respect of education and jobs, yet a large section of the people, has interpreted it as an appeasement of Muslims and a discrimination against Hindus. The BJP has been able to exploit this sentiment to the full by whipping up the ingrained Hindu religious sentiment. The BJP government, immediately after coming to power for the second term, tried to impose Hindi on all non-Hindi speaking states. It has had to retreat in the face of protests from the south. But such protests have not erupted in West Bengal. The educated Bengali, except a tiny section, seems to have forgotten his Bengali identity. His Bengali identity, however, expresses itself venomously when it comes to opposing the Gorkha demand for self-determination. The condition of the parliamentary left in West Bengal is precarious. What is to be noted is that it is unable to turn the social current in its favour through mass movements owing to its many years of parliamentary cretinism and final degeneration. The condition of the far left is also not encouraging. The students and youths in general are much more interested in building up their individual careers than in feeling for the people. And ex-Naxalites are as yet basking in the glory of their old exploits, while remaining impassive to the need for doing anything at present. Some sporadic mass movements have been there, but they are too small to attract state-wide attention. One ongoing small movement is taking place in a rural area of the district of Birbhum, where villagers have been clamouring for the return of land or construction of an industrial unit, for which land was taken from them with promise of jobs. It is worth noting that in this movement, as in the earlier Bhangar movement, the BJP did not try to exploit the situation, because there was no scope here for aggravating Hindu Muslim tension. Whenever the BJP intervenes in any situation, it has as its ultimate objective promotion of the agenda of Hindutva, the essence of which is the othering of Muslims and Dalits. When the scope of such promotion is not there, the BJP is nowhere to be seen. Some silver linings are there, as are bound to exist in every situation. There are civil rights and human rights groups, voluntary associations trying to help the poor and depressed, and so on. But the real melancholy is that as the TMC and its leaders at various levels are getting exposed as corrupt people, the BJP is filling up the space, and its strength also depends on power at the centre and the support of corporate capital. Paisa, the mother goddess, is ruling everywhere and bowing to power is the norm. It is not at all being realised that to switch from the TMC to the BJP is to move from the frying pan to fire. The far left is as yet far too disorganized to instil hopes in the minds of the people at large. So, sensible people of West Bengal seem to have to bungle along and wait for another spring thunder.

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Vol. 52, No. 2, Jul 14 - 20, 2019