Invoking regional chauvinism to cover up administrative and economic failures has been a typical trait of Indian politicians, especially those from non-Hindi speaking states. Sub-nationalism and promotion of the state’s language and culture is a good thing, as long as it is not being used for covering-up political failures and convert it into vote bank. But, many politicians resort to it, as this seems the easiest way to fool the masses by playing with their emotions.
Mamata Banerjee led West Bengal government has been a colossal failure in the fight against Covid-19. She has not been to control Coronavirus and tried to hide the total number of cases, only to be flagged by the Central government authorities and forced to accept lies. Almost two weeks ago, the Mamata government was forced to revise the number of cases and deaths from Coronavirus disease.
After that Mamata Banerjee held no press conferences- a regular occurrence since Coronavirus induced lockdown was enforced- for 12 days. “Mamata Banerjee has lost face to stand before the people or the media. She has lost all credibility and has nothing to say,” said senior Congress leader and MP Adhir Ranjan Chowdhury, as per a report by ThePrint. “That is why she has chosen to be quarantined politically.”
Later when she held a press conference after 12 days, Mamata resorted to her old trick of invoking ‘Bengali Asmita’. She said that she would pray to god to forgive “Bengalis who are maligning the image of Bengal”, which was probably directed at employees of Union government from ICMR team who flagged discrepancies in West Bengal data, and perhaps also on Advisors like Bibek Debroy- Chairman, PM Economic Advisory Council and Sanjeev Sanyal- Principal Economic Advisor- Bengalis in top positions in Modi government who have been critical of Mamata’s handling of Coronavirus crisis.
“I have nothing against the Centre or anybody,” she added. “But I would only say why Bengal is always being targeted? Why is Bengal always being criticised when all of us are fighting against the virus?”
Mamata Banerjee government has completely failed to resolve the Coronavirus crisis. Her government could not enforce the lockdown and when cases started rising, the administration tried to hide data. After that, during Ramzan, Hindu-Muslim riots broke out in the state. In many places, the police were beaten up by the crowd and their vehicles were burned down. The morale of West Bengal police is at an all-time low as the government is more interested in appeasing a particular community rather than establishing the rule of law and punishing the culprits.
“The Bengal chief minister has long been trying this strategy to invoke Bengali pride and sub-nationalism. Whenever there is some failure or mismanagement, the ruling parties generally try to take cover under the ideological beliefs,” said political analyst Professor Biswanath Chakraborty.
The Bengali migrant workers are stranded across the country but the Mamata Banerjee government is not ready to bear 15 percent of their ticket expense. Recently, Union Minister of Railways, Piyush Goyal, slammed West the Bengal CM for not doing enough for the Bengali migrant workers while the Centre is extending all possible help.
He tweeted, “I feel sad that while there is a need for 105 trains/day to bring back migrants to WB, the State is accepting only 105 trains over 30 days. I once again hope for the sake of Bengali brothers & sisters in different parts of the country, that WB will accept them back with open arms.”
I feel sad that while there is a need for 105 trains/day to bring back migrants to WB, the State is accepting only 105 trains over 30 days. I once again hope for the sake of Bengali brothers & sisters in different parts of the country, that WB will accept them back with open arms
— Piyush Goyal (@PiyushGoyal) May 14, 2020
In a recent survey conducted by Times Now, Mamata Banerjee emerged as the most unpopular CM with only 6 percent approval rating among the people of Kolkata, the stronghold of TMC.
It is very much evident that Mamata Banerjee’s performance has not been good and people are unhappy with her. In the 2019 general election, BJP won 18 seats while TMC won 22 and the saffron party emerged as the second most popular choice with more than 30 percent popular votes. Mamata Banerjee is worried that people might vote her out of power in 2021 assembly election and this is the reason behind her repeated invocation of ‘Bengali Asmita’.
“This ‘Bangla and Bangalee’ statement is another reflection of her efforts to try to cover up the mishandling of the Corona crisis and stir the Bengali sentiment. As far as elections are concerned, it is too early to say whether this strategy will work electorally on the ground,” said Professor Chakraborty.
She wants to paint BJP as Hindi heartland party which does not respect Bengali sub-nationalism, its culture, and language; and position herself as a Bengali Nationalist. In the last few days, she made a public appearance only on the birth anniversary of Rabindranath Tagore, the cultural icon of Bengal.
Mamata Banerjee has been trying reposition herself as the champion of Bengali Nationalism after BJP made huge gains in 2019 general election and since then, she refers West Bengal as- Bangla. She alleged that Central government is not allowing JEE (Mains) in Bengali and later during CAA-NRC, she said that this is a project to victimize Bengalis.