Amit Shah’s venomous vitriol and political myopia in West Bengal

“Goli maaro s**lon ko” chants reverberate as BJP heavyweight tries to wrest state out of Mamata Banerjee’s control

Amit Shah

On Sunday, Union Home Minister Amit Shah paid Kolkata a visit and tried to build support for the Citizenship Amendment Act (CAA). In his speech he squarely blamed West Bengal Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee for scaring minorities by misleading them about CAA.

He accused Banerjee of “triggering riots” and “burning trains”. He also accused Mamata Banerjee of neglecting “Sharanaarthi” (refugees) facing persecution, and caring only about “Ghuspethiye” (infiltrators), thereby demarcating migrants along communal lines. He asked, “Mamata didi, why are you opposed to giving citizenship to Namshudras and Dalits? Why do you not consider refugees as your own people? Why are you only concerned about infiltrators?”

West Bengal had refused to conduct CAA or the National register of Citizens (NRC) in the state and Banerjee had assured people that she would protect them from any unconstitutional or blatantly communal moves by the centre. It is also noteworthy that despite its best efforts, the BJP has been unable to gain any significant political mileage in the state and coming to power in West Bengal remains the party’s most coveted dream.

From the outset it was clear that Shah wanted to spin this narrative of failure into one of gradual victory. He began by saying, “We went from getting 87 lakh votes in 2014 to 2.3 crore votes in 2019.”

While it is true that BJP has managed to expand its footprint in the state, what Shah failed to mention was how while the BJP had won in the northern constituencies along the Bangladesh border, it has lost in all but two of the southern ones in the Lok Sabha elections. Also, while a split in the secular vote is responsible for the BJP victories, TMC has summarily trounced its opponents obtaining huge winning margins in the southern constituencies along the border. All of this was a direct impact of its political stand on citizenship related issues.

Shah also failed to acknowledge that Banerjee’s All India Trinamool Congress (AITC) had knocked the wind out of the BJP during crucial byelections held in November 2019. This was the time when the BJP perhaps suffered its most humiliating defeat in the state. AITC was successful wresting back control of Kharagpur Sadar from the clutches of the BJP, especially since it was the constituency of BJP state chief Dilip Ghosh. Bye elections were necessitated here are Ghosh became a Member of Parliament. But TMC’s Pradip Sarkar thrashed BJP’s Prem Chandra Jha with a winning margin of over 20,000 votes! The main reason BJP lost the byelections was because of their inability to read what the electorate was saying not just about CAA and NRC, but about the politics of hate. The party is clearly still smarting from that electoral slap. Though it has had little impact on Ghosh who is still making controversial and hate-filled statements about anti-CAA protesters.

Ghosh recently called intellectuals “spineless parasites”, said protesters “were shot like dogs in Assam and UP”, asked why were Shaheen Bagh protesters “not dying”, and asked a woman anti-CAA protester to be grateful that men only heckled her and “nothing else was done to her.” Perhaps it would serve Shah better to acknowledge that it was such incendiary comments by his own party’s people and wrong strategy in West Bengal that were responsible for their failure in the state.

But what was perhaps most disturbing was the chants of “goli maaro s**lon ko” that were raised by Shah’s supporters while they were passing the Maidan Market in Esplanade en route to the rally venue Shahid Minar ground. While the BJP says they were not party members, Hindustan Times reports that the party has decided to provide legal assistance to three people detained in connection with raising the hate-filled slogan.



WB post poll analysis: Saffron fades as one heads South along the Bangladesh border
WB bye elections: TMC knocks the wind out of BJP, wins all three constituencies
‘I’m your paharadar, nobody can displace you from Bengal’: Mamata on NRC



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