More the Islamic State (IS) sympathisers gain ground in neighbouring Bangladesh, more the BJP in West Bengal will find a reason to cement its base.
According to a report published in a Kolkata-based daily, the BJP's state meeting in Siliguri on Friday decided to approach the Bangladesh High Commission under the leadership of state chief and MLA Dilip Ghosh, seeking protection for the endangered minorities in the neighbouring country. The BJP cadre will also focus on the issue at the grassroots level to bring its pet issue of Hindutva to the fore in the state's politics. A delegation from the BJP has already approached the high commission on the issue. [PM Modi expresses concern over IS threat to Ramakrishna Mission in Bangladesh]
The practitioners of saffron politics haven't had much success in selling Hindutva in the eastern state which was ruled by the communists for over 30 years at a stretch.
Terrorist activities in Bangladesh are giving BJP just what it want in Bengal
That the BJP is eager to cash in on the Hindutva sentiments in Bengal instead of choosing the way of appeasing the minorities in the state was evident from the steps it took ahead of this year's Assembly election.
While it brought is RSS pracharak Ghosh to head the party instead of a more moderate Rahul Sinha, it also campaigned over the clashes in Kaliachak in Malda district to win a seat there. And now, the party has found a big opportunity to mobilise the majority votes by focussing on the security of the minorities in Bangladesh---where the fangs of radicalism are turning more fearsome. Not to forget, the RSS's untiring exercise to expand its cadre base in Bengal. [BJP wins 3 seats in Bengal---its highest since BJS's tally of 9 in 1952]
The urge to play politics of polarisation in Bengal is not unexpected
The BJP's decision to meet fire with fire is not unexpected. The saffron party has not been able to develop a strong organisation and face in Bengal where its ideology has also not been made much of an impact---thanks to a long Left legacy and Mamata Banerjee' populism. The growing strength of radicalism in neighbouring Bangladesh thus gives it a chance to play its strong card on this side of the border and generate support.
It will need Mamata Banerjee to do some special thinking to counter BJP's Hindutva project in Bengal
It will need a well thought-out counter plan from Banerjee to stop the BJP from making inroads in the state. Though the ruling Trinamool Congress has no ideological baggage like the Left or the Congress when it comes to dealing with the right-wing BJP, but the fact that she is in power now and not in opposition will demand her to put in more thinking in the BJP policy. For she has a huge vote-bank in the minorities.
Can Mamata neutralise BJP's twin weapons of Hindutva & development?
It will be interesting how Banerjee's future electoral strategies go from here. It was one thing to deal with the Left which did little to put Bengal on the path of growth and alienated various sections of the society. But it is another thing to deal with the BJP, which essentially plays two cards---of majoritarian religious appeal and development. It is something which galvanises both the urban and rural, general and caste and moderate and radical religious views.
Banerjee is yet to win the confidence of the urban voters in terms of development while she has no ideological capital to sell to the radical (majority) thinkers. On the contrary, her politics of appeasing minorities in the name of secularism has earned her criticism.
The Bangladesh problem will certainly make the BJP versus Mamata fight in Bengal interesting in the coming days. The one who will play it smarter will be placed better to clinch the contest.