We learned an idiom in our school days- “A bad carpenter blames his tools”. The meaning of the idiom was simple- an inefficient person blames his inefficiency on external factors, means and procedures rather than admitting his fault. In Indian politics, there is a person who perfectly fits into this idiom. That person behaves like the elder sister of another political luminary who would have changed the whole nation had everybody not conspired against him. Yes, you are right in guessing the political luminary, but if you are still confused about the person who is behaving like his sister, then I must remind you- the lady is none other than Mamata Banerjee, the current Chief Minister of West Bengal.
Among the many politicians who vehemently called the current Prime Minister Narendra Modi a fascist, a dictator, a tyrant, etc, Mamata Banerjee will find her seat in the front line. Just like her male counterpart, she is ready to blame everything on Modi, BJP and RSS- be it the criticism of the governor of the West Bengal or the verdict from the Kolkata High Court regarding her directive where she prohibited idol immersions from 6 PM on 30th September to 6 AM on 2nd October due to Muharram. Anything that goes against her views, she blames it on BJP and Modi.
The lady, who calls Modi a dictator, herself acted like a lady-Tughlaq when she issued the directive to put a temporary ban on idol immersion. She did the same thing in 2015 and 2016. However, when three housing societies moved the court regarding her directive in 2016, the judge Dipankar Dutta gave a relaxation on the ban and allowed to immerse idols till 8.30 PM in the night on Vijaya Dashami; the Muharram was on next day. This year too, the CM of West Bengal had put such restriction due to Muharram, which is on 1st October. However, three housing societies again filed PIL and the Kolkata High Court had to act on it. Due to the intervention of the HC, the state government had extended the timing of immersion from 6 PM on Vijaya Dashami (30th September) to 10 PM on the same day. Later, the Kolkata High Court bench of acting Chief Justice Rakesh Tiwary and Justice Harish Tandon, had revoked the government’s directive and allowed idol immersions to take place till 12 AM everyday– even on Muharram (1st October). The HC slapped the directive by calling it appeasement politics- “You are exercising extreme power without any basis… Just because you are the state, can you pass arbitrary order?” The court asked the government not to hide its inability by imposing restrictions on idol immersions. The HC even compared the Maharashtra Police and West Bengal Police and asked why the state police cannot maintain religious processions of both the communities at the same time.
Angry with the HC’s verdict, the first thing the CM of West Bengal did was to utter these words– “We will take precautions by all means yet if any violence breaks out, I will not be held responsible. I will not be responsible for violence, I will be responsible for peace”. Adding further, she said- “I don’t understand when people don’t understand the culture of Bengal, someone gives gyan on Bengal. There is vendetta against us from the Centre. People being at peace makes them restless? It is so easy to spark fire and so difficult to douse it.” She openly lashed out at the HC by saying– “Someone can slit my throat, but no one can tell me what to do”
Imagine a CM of a state telling that if violence will break out, she will not take any responsibility. Imagine a CM who is blaming the outcome of her appeasement politics on a rival party. She even blamed BJP for spreading rumors regarding the restriction on idol immersions. She even blamed the Central government for playing politics regarding a Hindu festival, while in contrary she was the one who issues such Tughlaqi farmaans every year.
On the other hand, the BJP and its mentor RSS have hailed the HC for its verdict against the arbitrary directive from the CM. The state BJP president Mr. Dilip Ghosh praised the HC for foiling the directive, which aimed at dividing the people of West Bengal on the greatest annual religious and cultural event of the state. The state BJP president rightly said- “The Hindus of Bengal have to depend on the judiciary to celebrate Durga Puja. We have serious doubts whether this government is for entire Bengal or a specific community, which accounts for 27 per cent of the state’s population”. The RSS general state secretary of South Bengal Mr. Jishnu Basu said- “It is really unfortunate that the Hindus of the state have to knock on the doors of the judiciary to celebrate Durga Puja. The Hindus no longer have any faith in the state administration and the ruling party (Trinamool Congress). The ruling party is depriving the Hindus of their basic rights, only for the sake of appeasement of a particular community”
The government’s aim was to taint the cultural event with communal hatred and animosity, which the HC wisely foiled. The directive and its ultimate outcome came in favor of BJP, which was vocally active against the restriction from the first day of the issue. The illogical actions from the CM actually strengthened BJP’s stances and the verdict of the HC was a moral victory for BJP.
Currently, only one lakh Shia Muslims live in West Bengal. This is also evident from the fact that only two Muslim organizations appealed for permission for Tazia processions. In order to appease one lakh Shia Muslims, Mamata Banerjee irked the Hindu community, which consists of 70% of the total population of West Bengal.
This has given new lifeline to BJP whose main power is Hindutva. Mamata Banerjee knew that HC could rule out the directive- may be more strictly than the previous year, which actually happened.
Her motive was to send a message- “See! Even after I knew that my directive will be slapped by the HC, still I tried to make you, the roughly 30% of the electorate, happy”. However, she miscalculated the actual numbers that did matter. These steps by Mamata Banerjee, who is fighting an ego-war, is actually giving a boost to BJP by making the Hindus feel that the step-motherly government is being discriminative to them. It was never a good statistic to appease one lakh people by displeasing 70% population.
BJP has seen rise in popularity recently, thanks to the appeasement politics by Mamata Banerjee. In recent civic polls and by-polls, BJP emerged as a major rival party and the other political parties seemed like losing the momentum of becoming the primary opposition. Earlier, the Ram Navami celebration by the BJP-RSS camp saw a tremendous success when people gathered in the rallies in huge number, celebrating the auspicious day dedicated to Lord Ram. This was unheard of in West Bengal’s history where Ram Navami was never a big event. The VHP has also decided to carry out Shastra-Pujan on the Muharram this year and this announcement is receiving many positive responses from the Hindu community who felt agitated towards Mamata Banerjee for her appeasement politics.
Before ending the write-up, let me share a new game plan from Mamata Banerjee, which shows how cunning this lady is. Though the HC allowed idol immersion on every day including the Muharram, the CM has many other cunning means to put restrictions on the immersions. It was earlier said that the state government would approach the Supreme Court to appeal against the verdict of the HC. However, the state government consulted with the veteran Congress leader and lawyer Kapil Sibbal and decided not to approach the apex court. Instead, Mamata Banerjee played a new card to carry out her dictatorship. The HC had stated that the other directions would not come into effect if the immersion is not found permissible. That means, it is up to the state government to assess whether the immersion is permissible or not permissible. As such, the West Bengal government made it mandatory for the puja committee organizers to take permission from the police for idol immersions on October 1. The government can bring out any excuse to deny permission to the puja committees to carry out immersions. Clearly, Mamata Banerjee still knows how to deny Hindus of their religious rights.