Kolkata: A fortnight after opposition parties' support poured in for West Bengal Chief Minister and Trinamool Congress chief Mamata Banerjee for her war against the CBI and the Centre, the BJP seems to have chalked out a plan to target her with an 'anti-Hindu' campaign ahead of the Lok Sabha elections.
As part of this strategy the saffron party has unleashed the RSS and VHP on Mamata. It seems this is the first phase of BJP's plan to win the 42 LS seats in West Bengal.
Launching the saffron brigade's first attack on Mamata after her dharna against CBI's bid to question Kolkata police commissioner Rajeev Kumar in chit fund scam, international joint general secretary of Vishwa Hindu Parishad (VHP) Surendra Jain on Thursday said under the TMC rule, Bengal had become a safe haven for jihadis, Rohingya migrants and anti-national elements while Hindus were facing persecution.
“The TMC government is giving protection to anti-nationals and attacking those who are patriots. If we wave the national flag and raise slogans in favour of Mother India, it is a crime in Bengal,” said Jain.
Taking a dig at Mamata, he alleged that it is during TMC's rule that maximum temples were destroyed in Bengal. He also claimed that the TMC supremo believes only in ‘appeasement politics’.
However, Mamata refuted the allegations and blamed the saffron parties for the rising incidents of communal violence in the state.
The CBI and Mamata were up in arms against each other in Kolkata on February 3 when the CM decided to sit on a dharna against the central investigation agency. The CBI had sent a team to quiz Rajeev Kumar for his alleged role in "suppressing" investigation into various chit fund scams in West Bengal.
Asked what is the logic behind his charges against Mamata, the VHP leader said, “Anyone can Google it. It is showing on internet that under the TMC rule most of the Hindu temples are vandalized and destroyed in Bengal.”
The senior VHP leader also claimed that the entire country wants revenge against the perpetrators of the Pulwama terror attack, but TMC and leaders of the grand alliance (Mahagatbandhan) don't want any firm action against Pakistan.
“We should teach Pakistan a lesson that they will not forget in days to come. We think there should be a final and ultimate war against Pakistan,” he told reporters at the VHP headquarters in Kolkata.
He asked, "What do you expect a patriot to do when you see some people are supporting terrorists and Pakistan? The entire country wants revenge against the perpetrators of terror attacks on our jawans.”
However, TMC secretary general Partha Chatterjee dismissed Jain's allegations as baseless and said outfits like the VHP were trying to trigger communal polarisation in the state ahead of the Lok Sabha polls.
At an all-party meeting called by Union Home Minister Rajnath Singh in New Delhi on February 16 after the Pulwama terror attack, senior TMC leader Sudip Bandhopadhyay had not supported the move to take ‘stern action’ against Pakistan.
However, political experts are of the opinion that the TMC, despite joining hands with other opposition parties for the coming Lok Sabha elections, differs from their view point.
Some of them even suggested that the grand alliance will fail if all the leaders don't have a common standpoint.
“It seems the TMC leaders are supporting Pakistan on Pulwama. At the all-party meeting everyone agreed on firm action against the neighbouring country. Only TMC opposed it. TMC was represented by Sudip Bandhopadhyay who didn’t agree with even parties which took part in the TMC's United India rally,” said a political analyst.
On the other hand, CPM leader Sitaram Yechury accused the BJP of politicising the Pulwama terror attack in which 40 CRPF jawans were killed.
Yechury said attempts to generate ‘electoral benefits’ out of the unfortunate incident was ‘wrong for the country’s security’. Pointing out the need for ‘accountability’, Yechury said the BJP should first explain how such an incident could occur in the first place given that the BJP had been at the helm of affairs for the past four years.
The CPM general secretary also questioned Prime Minister Narendra Modi on his breach of protocol in going to receive Saudi Arabia’s crown prince upon his arrival in India on Tuesday. Yechury pointed out that the crown prince had recently announced a generous aid package for Pakistan.
Further, the CPM general secretary spoke on the coming elections in the country stressing on the need to defeat the BJP at the Centre, Congress in Kerala and Trinamool Congress in West Bengal.
The Congress had slammed the PM for receiving the Saudi Crown Prince Mohammad bin Salman at the airport and had asked whether according a grand welcome to “those who praised" Pakistan's "anti-terror efforts” was the PM’s way of remembering the Pulwama martyrs.
Asked to comment on Modi receiving the prince at the airport, Jain said, “We should not forget that the role of that country (Saudi Arabia) is unquestionable when it comes to dealing with terror.”
Terrorism and extremism are “common concerns” and Saudi Arabia will extend all cooperation to India and other countries in the region to deal with them, the Crown Prince had said on Wednesday after holding extensive talks with Modi.
Jain also criticised opposition leaders for opposing a Ram temple at Ayodhya in Uttar Pradesh, saying these “leaders of Mahagatbandhan want to create hurdles in the path of the Ram temple as they want to use it for political purpose. But for us, it is a matter of faith”.
According to political analysts, the war of words between the TMC and saffron parties is just the beginning of a full-fledged battle ahead of the elections. The BJP is desperate to win a sizeable number of seats in West Bengal, where after the CPM's decline the saffron parties are eyeing a growth in vote base. TMC had won 34 LS seats out of the 42 in the state during the 2014 polls. BJP and Left parties bagged two each while Congress tasted victory in four seats.