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OPINION | Mamata Banerjee Takes Hindu Sentiments for Granted on Durga Idol Immersion Row, Says Swapan Dasgupta

After the Sangh Parivar slammed Banerjee over Puja restrictions, the CM, last Saturday, warned them “not to play with fire”.

Kabir Goswami | News18.com

Updated:September 19, 2017, 11:32 AM IST
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OPINION | Mamata Banerjee Takes Hindu Sentiments for Granted on Durga Idol Immersion Row, Says Swapan Dasgupta
File photo of West Bengal Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee. (Image: PTI)
Rajya Sabha MP Swapan Dasgupta tells News18’s Kabir Goswami that West Bengal CM’s efforts to restrict Durga Puja idol immersion for Muharram expose her appeasement politics. Edited Excerpts:

The West Bengal government drew flak, particularly from some Hindu groups, over restrictions imposed on idol immersion during Durga Puja this year. After protests, Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee, last Friday, did a U-turn and extended the immersion timing from 6 pm to 10 pm.

Last month, Banerjee told a news agency that on October 1 there will be no immersion because of the observation of Muharram. The Sangh Parivar — including BJP, VHP and Bajrang Dal — took no time to hit out at Didi and accused her of doing ‘appeasement’ politics.

Interestingly, Congress and the Left joined the BJP in accusing the Trinamool Congress (TMC) of doing communal politics and patronizing criminal groups in the state.

After the Sangh Parivar slammed Banerjee over Puja restrictions, the CM, last Saturday, warned them “not to play with fire”.

“Some people are trying to play dirty politics over Durga Puja. So, if the people from BJP, RSS and VHP believe they can ruin our peace, I would ask them not to play with fire,” she said. But many Hindu outfits said they would defy the CM’s orders.

Earlier this year, when the Basirhat violence broke out, Banerjee accused the BJP of spreading rumour and inciting violence. Also, one can’t forget the failure of TMC government in recent Darjeeling protests, in which, several people lost their lives, and tourism and tea industry took a major hit.

The issue is not just who is responsible but also the biased policies of Mamata government. One can’t conveniently shift the blame on opposition all the time.

The fact is that BJP, under the leadership of Prime Minister Narendra Modi and BJP chief Amit Shah, is successfully consolidating its support base in Bengal. The Muslim population of West Bengal is 30 per cent, and with the cropping up of the idol immersion issue, a feeling of neglect has already seeped in among the majority.

While talking about BJP as an alternative in Bengal, I am not saying that it has a chance to win an election today, but one can’t deny the fact that Mamata Banerjee has started taking Hindu sentiments for granted.

She won Bengal in 2011 on the promise of change and inclusion. Since then, things have changed to such an extent that many have started seeing vote-bank politics behind whatever the CM does. Here, it must be noted that Durga Puja is a much bigger festival than Muharram in West Bengal.

The state government should work out a localized arrangement to ensure that both Durga Puja idol immersion and Muharram take place peacefully.

And the CM must realize that restrictions don’t necessarily ensure tranquility. Last year, she had imposed similar restrictions but violence was reported. Numerous people were injured in clashes between two communities.

It’s the responsibility of all, both majority and minority, to understand they are a part of ‘One India,’ and not get lured into the wicked designs of troublemakers.

Mamata Banerjee should focus on governance and not indulge in politics of appeasement.

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| Edited by: Ananya Chakraborty
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