Sunday, May 16, 2021
Home Opinions A divided history: Resurgence of Hindutva politics in West Bengal

A divided history: Resurgence of Hindutva politics in West Bengal

The portrayal of this battle as propagated by the BJP is primarily a battle for democracy (saving the right to vote) and a protest against preferential treatment of Muslims whereas the TMC is propagating it as an election to save 'secular' democracy

British India

In 1946, when the Muslim League proposed and advocated the inclusion of entire Bengal into Pakistan, a safe haven for the Muslims in British India, the Hindu minority of Bengal fearing the subversion of human and constitutional rights, decided to agitate and advocate a separate state which would join India, namely West Bengal. These concerns were justified by a series of events under Chief Minister Suhrawardy’s rule, where a communal agenda was at play. The police in the then, Bengal Province comprised of Punjabi Muslims, concentrated primarily in Calcutta, had been blamed for extrajudicial proceedings including, kidnappings, rape and other excesses on the local Hindu population. (Bandyopadhyay, Sandip (2010), ইতিহাসের দিকে ফিরে: ছেচল্লিশের দাঙ্গা [The Calcutta Riots, 1946] (in Bengali), Kolkata: Radical. p. 73. ISBN 978-81-85459-07-3). On the 16th of August 1946, after a Muslim league address, violence broke out in Calcutta, namely the “Great Calcutta Killings’ termed also as ‘Direct Action Day‘. Hindu shops were looted and the Hindu population was lynched. While the riot inflicted deaths on both sides, various editorials had claimed that it was primarily targeted towards the Hindu population. The riots fell off into Orissa as well. A death toll of 7000-10,000 was realized. (Read here)

Immediately between the riots, The Bengal Provincial Hindu Mahasabha called for a separate Hindu Homeland for the Bengali Hindus, as claimed by Historian Amlendu De. The prospect was supported by Congress. Towards the end of 1946, the Bengal Partition League was formed (Sanyal, Sunanda; Basu, Soumya (2011), The Sickle & the Crescent: Communists, Muslim League and India’s Partition. London: Frontpage Publications. p. 154. ISBN 978-81-908841-6-7) and worked in agreement of the proposal of the Hindu Mahasabha and comprised of fervent Bengali intellectuals like – Dr Shayama Prasad Mukherjee (Who later joined the Hindu Mahasabha and further founded the Bharatiya Jan Sangh, Dr. Hemanta Kumar Sarkar (A close associate of Subhash Chandra Bose, Founder of the Labour Swaraj Party with the likes of Kazi Nazrul Islam and Muzaffar Ahmed, A peasant leader who later entered founded the partition league) , Lt. Colonel A.C. Chatterjee ( A member of the INA) and other eminent politicians like Dr. Bidhan Roy Chowdhury who later became the chief minister of West Bengal on a Congress ticket after having contested various elections independently and under the Swaraj Party. The Hindu Mahasabha along with the Indian National Congress conducted a huge number of rallies to rally support for a separate Hindu Homeland for the Bengal Hindus. Support was garnered for the same and a proposal was submitted to the British for consideration after the Muslim League reluctantly agreed.

Current Situation

Mamata Banerjee is an all-pervasive matriarch figure in the West Bengal Political sphere. Her struggle against the left in the left bastion was well acknowledged and with a huge majority in the legislative assembly has made her as powerful as the Central Government is the state. Her strength in using the state instruments to her advantage has been well documented. Her support base in Southern Bengal  remains intact but she is facing a huge backlash as well in various districts for reasons varying between subversion of democratic rights of people especially at the Panchayat and Municipal Corporation level, which is responsible for actualizing various state and central government schemes, as well as her ‘alleged’ involvement in not checking the entry of Bangladeshi immigrants, evident from her fervent ‘warnings’ to the BSF for their ‘excesses’.

In the Northern Districts and Constituencies where there was a strong Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) support, namely Cooch Behar, Alipurduar, Darjeeling and Jalpaiguri. It stemmed from the All India Trinamool Congress (TMC) government’s alleged implicit solidarity with economic refugees from Bangladesh. This support has increased due to the rampant complaint of ‘Hindus’ being allegedly denied to vote by Muslims. A recent video on ABP Ananda and Times Now shows women who were allegedly being denied a passage to vote and were ‘allegedly’ beaten by ‘goons’ from the TMC. Other than that Darjeeling’s Gorkha population has been traditionally a BJP vote bank.

In Raiganj, the fight is extremely polarised. The Hindu population here again had been allegedly blockaded from voting during panchayat elections. In Malda, the Muslim vote bank has been gravitating towards from Congress which enjoyed a good secular vote bank for years owing the love for Ghani Khan Chowdhury. In response to this polarization, the Hindu vote bank is primarily shifting towards the BJP. However, the support for Mamata Banerjee has been more or less secular further south. Where the Mamata Banerjee government has reduced its popularity is the Hindi speaking populace in constituencies like Asansol (currently a BJP base) and Barrackpore (where a TMC MLA has switched over to the BJP and is likely to defeat Dinesh Trivedi in the 2019 election).

However, a very important constituency is Bangaon where the Matua scheduled caste community which has been a traditional TMC vote bank has seen a split due to the Citizenship Amendment Bill passed in the Lok Sabha. Matua’s are a community which include Hindu refugees from Bangladesh suffering religious persecution. A lot of whom still do not have citizenship in India. And are quite upset about the TMC, Congress and the left not supporting the bill in the Rajya Sabha.

Clearly, the electorate of the state of West Bengal is extremely complicated but what is a fact is that this election will be an extremely polarised election. Polarised on both sides. The portrayal of this battle as propagated by the BJP is primarily a battle for democracy (saving the right to vote) and a protest against preferential treatment of Muslims (citing events of stalling the Durga Visarjan for the recognizing Muharram) whereas the TMC is propagating it as an election to save democracy (a secular democracy which the BJP has allegedly been a threat to).

  Support Us  

Whether NDTV or 'The Wire', they never have to worry about funds. In name of saving democracy, they get money from various sources. We need your support to fight them. Please contribute whatever you can afford

Related Articles

Trending now

Rakesh Tikait threatens to defeat BJP in Uttar Pradesh where assembly elections are slated for next year

The 'apolitical' farmer movement has been nothing but political from the beginning.

Far-left and Congress trolls display ignorance while targeting PM Modi, misinterpret data to claim Rupee weakening against Bangladeshi Taka

As the value of 1 Rupee is equal to 1.16 Bangladeshi Taka, trolls assumed Rupee is weak against Taka and targeted PM Modi

Farmers pelt stones, turn violent towards police to disrupt Haryana CM Manohar Lal Khattar’s event, DSP severely injured

The farmers who were protesting near the Ramayan Toll traveled 18 kilometers to ransack the event.

Assam: Six arrested for disrespecting national flag, accused caught using tricolour as table cloth for Eid feast

An image of Rejina Parvin Sultana, a resident of Assam's Tengnamari village, feasting lunch with her family on the occasion of Eid had gone viral on the internet.

No oxygen and ICU beds, hospitals discharging serious patients to avoid recording death: Covid-19 situation turns grim in Tamil Nadu

Journalist Sandhya Ravishankar alleged that Tamil Nadu govt is under-reporting the actual number of new Covid-19 cases and deaths.

Israel denies using international media to lure Hamas into a deadly trap, journalists working in the region do not believe it

International media had published the Israel military statement that ground forces were already in Gaza, which was retracted later

Recently Popular

Legendary Australian cricketer slams world media for ‘vulture’ journalism, says Incredible India deserves respect: Here is what he said

In a recent post, the former cricketer has expressed his overwhelming support for India and slammed international media for vulture journalism

How NDTV played with words to give impression that Kerala woman died due to Israel, deleted and reposted, but still did not mention Palestine

NDTV subtly peddled an agenda trying to paint Israel as the aggressors and Palestine as the victim after a Indian woman died in terror attacks

The Hindu quietly changes headline after columnist calls Tejasvi Surya a virus: Here are her previous problematic comments

The Hindu published an opinion-editorial by columnist Vaishna Roy on Friday where it called BJP MP Tejasvi Surya a virus.

Former pornstar Mia Khalifa falls for ‘toolkit’ again? Posts unedited tweet against Israel, later defends herself with bizarre explanation

Former porn-star Mia Khalifa accidentally revealed being part of an anti-Israel Twitter storm after she tweeted an unedited post

Charlie Hebdo cartoon mocking Hindu deities for Covid-19 crisis turns out to be fake? Here’s what we know

Some social media users pointed out the hypocrisy of these 'left-liberals', who were just a few months back attacking the same French magazine for publishing cartoons that were allegedly hurtful for Muslims.

Jerusalem conflict: The history of Al-Aqsa Mosque on Temple Mount and the holiest Jewish temple that preceded it

The Al-Aqsa Mosque and the Dome of the Rock was built on the same spot where the Second Temple of the Judaism was located
- Advertisement -


Connect with us