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It's Mamata's Bengali Pitch Against Shah's Majority Appeal for Battle 2019 in Bengal

According to some political observers, the Trinamool government is well prepared with a pre-emptive plan. The primary focus of the TMC is to keep the minority vote-bank intact and then top it up with Bengali sub-nationalism.

Sankhadip Das
Mamata Banerjee has taken a strong position against the National Register of Citizens of Assam accusing the BJP of trying to push out 12 lakhs Bengalis from Assam.

Earlier this month, BJP president Amit Shah also held a rally in Kolkata. For 15 minutes out of 28-minute that he spoke, Shah attempted to make party's position clear on the issue which may be an election issue not only in Assam but also in other northeastern states and Bengal. Shah clarified that the BJP is not anti-Bengali but it is anti-infiltration and anti-Mamata.


So what are the implications of this verbal dual between the BJP and the TMC on NRC?

The Saradha, Narada, Rose valley investigation issues slowly seem to be taking a back seat. With 2019 elections approaching, Amit Shah, in Bengal, has shifted his focus on the polarisation politics.


And what are the ingredients of the campaign? Stop Bangladeshi infiltration, celebrate Saraswati Puja and Durga Puja with all pride and might. If there are any restrictions imposed by the Trinamool government on idol immersion procession, take the Mamata Banerjee head on.

According to some political observers, the Trinamool government is well prepared with a pre-emptive plan. The primary focus of the TMC is to keep the minority vote-bank intact and then top it up with Bengali sub-nationalism.

So changing the name of the state from West Bengal to Bangla was part of the plan to build this narrative. It would have worked in favour of her if the BJP government would have delayed the decision on the name change. But the Home Ministry has indicated its intention to pass the proposal.

Secondly, Trinamool is trying to spread a sense in rural Bengal that Mamata may become the Prime Minister after the 2019 election. They believe that post the general election, Trinamool will emerge as the third largest party. So if there comes a fractured mandate in 2019, the chance of Mamata becoming PM gets brighter. Trinamool is also trying to appeal to the emotion that India might finally get its first Bengali PM.

Now that the issue of NRC in Assam has cropped up, Trinamool is leaving no stone unturned to make it look like the BJP is pushing out Bengalis from Assam. Aim remains the same.

Which is why in his recent speech in Kolkata Amit Shah had to reiterate that the BJP is not anti-Bengalis. He also made it clear that Hindu refugees should not be scared about NRC. Rather the present Narendra Modi government is in favour of giving them citizenship, and that is why government will soon pass the Citizenship Bill in Parliament.

To reassert his point, Shah said Bengal is the Bengal of Syamaprasad Mookerjee and being in power in 19 states doesn’t matter if BJP can’t uproot Mamata.

He has accused TMC of protesting against illegal Bangladeshi infiltration as a part of Muslim appeasement.

The BJP chief claimed that these infiltrators from Bangladesh are involved in terrorist activities and are snatching the bread and butter of Bengalis. Time and again, Shah has invoked Sri Chaitanya, Ramakrishna in his speech.

The general election of 2019 is only eight months away. No doubt, in the coming days, the efforts behind these two different routes of polarisation will only become stronger. It’s 'Ami Bangali' vs majority pitch.

The question now is, if the Left front and the Congress can survive this polarisation fight between the two biggies. The political space of real secular politics is completely vacant in Bengal nowadays. Completely vacant.

(Author is a senior journalist. Views are personal)

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