The fiasco in the Jawaharlal Nehru University (JNU) in New Delhi has seen reactions from all non-BJP parties in the country except the Trinamool Congress (TMC). In fact, as major Bengali daily Ei Samay has reported---the students' wing of the TMC called the Trinamool Chhatra Parishad, which is in power in a majority of educational institutes in West Bengal, has hinted at backing the government's action in JNU saying it doesn't compromise on the questions of sovereignty and national security. [Bengal polls 2016: JNU issue & 3 other reasons that may finalise Congress-CPM alliance in state]
Derek O'Brien was sent to Hyderabad but no reaction on JNU fiasco
The TMC leadership though had sent MP Derek O'Brien to Hyderabad after Dalit student Rohith Vemula committed suicide, but it has no said nothing so far on the JNU issue. The party supremo and chief minister of Bengal, Mamata Banerjee, too has spoken little on the NDA govenment's strong handling of the students's protest.
The rally that took place in Kolkata on Monday on the issue of JNU saw leaders and supporters of the Congress and Left walking together, raising enough speculation about them joining hands for the next Assembly elections in the state.
The leaders, though refused to describe it as a prelude to an alliance in Bengal and said it was more apolitical which had no party flags and banners, but they also questioned the absence of any representative from the TMC in it, indirectly putting the onus on a perceived understanding between Mamata and Narendra Modi.
But the Opposition's question is not without a basis. Given the way Mamata has always projected herself as a pro-people leader, it was expected that she would stand by the students of JNU, as several non-BJP parties have done. But she chose to remain silent, perhaps to meet the demands of politics.
There could be two reasons for Mamata's silence in the wake of the JNU fracas.
Mamata might not want to oppose BJP in the pre-election time
First, the TMC leader might not want to annoy the BJP-led government at the Centre, particularly ahead of the Assembly polls. For unlike the pre-2011 scenario when she was an absolute messiah, she has a lot at stake this time. The TMC supremo really has to play out a game of balance after the Saradha scam and terror links to her state were unearthed. The BJP, on the other hand, would need her support in the Upper House, which means a political arrangement would keep both of them busy for respective gains and the JNU issue doesn't fit in those scheme of things.
Mamata is known for hating anything that is Left
The second could be the TMC supremo's known hatred for the Left. The JNU, which is a Left-dominated institute, was divided after her victory in the 2011 Bengal election. Besides, in April 2013, Mamata and her Finace Minister Amit Mitra were targeted by Left activists outside the Yojana Bhavan to meet the Planning Commission's the then chief Montek Singh Ahluwalia, resulting in a crude retaliation in Bengal.
Given the TMC chief's distaste for Left and ultra-Left activists and the reflection of the deep polarisation on party lines in the education sector in Bengal, there is little surprise in the fact that Mamata will spare words in favour of the students of JNU who bore the brunt of right-wing jingoism.