A Student’s Response To Mahua Moitra’s New York Times Op-Ed On ‘Defeating Modi’ 

Harshil Mehta

May 10, 2021, 04:34 PM | Updated 04:34 PM IST

Member of Parliament Mahua Moitra. (Mahua Moitra/Facebook)
Member of Parliament Mahua Moitra. (Mahua Moitra/Facebook)
  • The arguments put forward by Moitra are specious at best and ludicrous at worst.
  • Clearly, she doesn’t let facts come in the way of her claims.
  • After the announcement of results of the West Bengal Assembly elections, Mahua Moitra, who is adored by Left-liberals as a voice against “fascism”, took to the New York Times to write a piece titled ‘I Know What It Takes to Defeat Narendra Modi.’

    The arguments used by her are specious at best and ludicrous at worst.

    Moitra claims that the Election Commission (EC) announced the West Bengal elections in eight phases and by doing so, "the commission made it possible for Mr. Modi to campaign extensively in West Bengal". She directly puts the EC, an independent body, under suspicion to score her political goals.

    The argument that the election was organised in eight phases to aid Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s campaign is deceptive.

    The most probable reason for conducting the elections in multiple phases is: incidents of violence during voting. The assessment - which was provided to the EC of India on 6 January and includes the statistics of violence during the 2018 village body elections, the 2019 parliamentary elections, and the run up to the 2021 elections – "estimates that there have been at least 1,500 incidents of political violence between mid-2019 and the end of 2020, resulting in 118 deaths".

    To prevent these incidents of violence, heavy policing machinery was required, which can’t be available throughout the state if voting takes place in a single phase.

    However, it is not new for West Bengal that the assembly elections are being organised in multiple phases. This can be simply verified using an Internet search.

    Last time, in 2016, the West Bengal elections were organised in six phases while other states went through only one or two phases.

    Similarly, the elections in West Bengal were organised in six and five phases respectively in 2011 and 2006. During 2006 and 2011 elections, Modi was nowhere in the picture and still the state went through multiphase elections.

    It is painful that she has used an international platform to cast aspersions against a constitutional authority of India.

    In the article, Moitra accuses Modi as a ‘toxic machismo’ and portrays Banerjee as an inclusive, gentle leader.

    "[T]he B.J.P.," she claims, "can still be defeated by a focused regional party that stays true to its grass roots and a secular, inclusive ideology". TMC’s campaign was anything but secular and inclusive. It played all the cards ranging from regional chauvinism to religious imperialism in the West Bengal elections.

    This is a ridiculous argument. In December 2020, Chief Minister Banerjee called Gujarat "the land of riots", in addition to remarks like "there is no place for outsiders in Bengal".

    Last month, during the campaign, she claimed that "Gujaratis are trying to capture Bengal by bringing goons from Uttar Pradesh and Bihar".

    This doesn’t stop here. The West Bengal Chief Minister and other Trinamool leaders went on to provoke minorities to vote on religious lines.

    She appealed to her "minority brothers and sisters with folded hands" to not let "split the minority vote", for, which, a 24-hour campaign ban was imposed by the EC.

    Her cabinet minister Firhad Hakim campaigned at the mosque and reportedly tried to offer religious favours.

    Another leader, Sheikh Alam, said if 30 per cent Muslims of India can come together then they can form four Pakistans. Though the party distanced itself from him, the move came only after the outrage.

    If the campaign by the Trinamool was inclusive and secular, as Moitra wants others to believe, then none of these things would have happened.

    Moitra preposterously writes, "…Mr. Modi referred to Ms. Banerjee, the leader of my party and the chief minister of West Bengal known affectionately as Didi, as 'Didi Ooo Didi!' — to stupendous applause from crowds of men."

    However, that was not the case, as he received applause not only from "crowds of men" but women too, who were seen cheering, as is evident from the video.

    Clearly, Moitra doesn’t let facts come in the way of her claims.

    Harshil Mehta is a columnist who writes on international relations, diplomacy, and national issues. He tweets @MehHarshil.

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