How Mamata spun herself into a web of minority appeasement

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It all began at Nandigram in the year 2007. Mamata Banerjee probably for the first time realised the importance of the Muslim vote bank at that time and since then it appears as though she has been spun into a web which she is unlikely to come out of.

Mamata Banerjee

The rioting that takes place in West Bengal is brazen in nature. Any small incident can trigger of a riot and the recent episodes are just a testimony of that. The problem for Mamata is two fold. She has relied heavily on the 30 per cent odd Muslim vote bank in the state. This has ensured her resounding success in the elections.

While the policy of appeasement helps her politically, it has done more harm than good for the state of Bengal. The Burdwan incident was one of the most shameful chapters in the history of the state.

A bunch of people had a free run in Bengal when they sat down to make bombs meant to be used in Bangladesh. The investigations clearly showed that the Jamaat-ul Mujahideen Bangladesh or the JMB had sent in its cadres to India to prepare bombs. These bombs numbering over 500 were meant to be used to shake up the government in Bangladesh.

Why this incident must be called as the worst in Bengal's history is because terrorists from another country were sheltered in the state and allowed to carry out subversive activities- something that India often accuses Pakistan of.

Out of control:

Intelligence Bureau officials who kept a close watch on the Burdhwan episode say that the state machinery looked the other way while all this happened. It is not as though the Intelligence Bureau did not warn the state machinery about what was taking place.
The problem is that many powerful persons managed to have their way around and let the bomb making happen. The state administration which follows a policy of appeasement was unable to control such elements.

Where it all began:

Many have accused Mamata of appeasing the Muslim community which constitutes 30 per cent of the vote bank. She understood the importance of Muslim support during the Nandigram agitation of 2007. There was police firing during the protest and the CPI(M) recaptured the area. In all this the Muslim support for Mamata swayed in her favour.

Mamata also did took full advantage of the suspicious death of Rizwanur Rehman in 2009. It was alleged that he committed suicide after being tortured by the police in Bengal which was then ruled by the CPI(M). Rehman was turned into a hero.

She then went on to name Rizwanur's brother and Feroza Bibi, the mother of a person killed in the Nandigram violence as candidates in the 2011 poll. Both went on to win the elections.

Let us revisit the Malda incident where 2.5 lakh people under the banner of the Idara-Shariya blocked the National Highway 34 to protest against remarks made about Prophet Mohammad. The mob set several buses and police ablaze. The media had reported that in the clash several police officers were injured and one RSS activist was shot.

What was ironic was that there was no spill out following the Muzzafarnagar riots of 2013. However the Malda riots were a result of a comment that was made in January 2017. The rioting took place a month later.

In 2012, Mamata announced an allowance of Rs 2,500 each for each imam. She also extended a stipend of Rs 1,500 to the thousands of muezzins who give the call to prayers at Mosques. While the Calcutta High Court struck her decision down saying it was discriminatory in nature, she found her way around it. It was then decided that the money would be given through the Wakf Boards.

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