Appease Muslims, Divide Hindus: This Is Why Mamata Banerjee Chooses To Lead The Continuing Anti-CAA Protests In Bengal

Appease Muslims, Divide Hindus: This Is Why Mamata Banerjee Chooses To Lead The Continuing Anti-CAA Protests In BengalWest Bengal Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee
Snapshot
  • Trying desperately to retain the goodwill of Muslims, in the aftermath of Owaisi’s threatening entry into Bengal politics, Mamata Banerjee is further alienating the Hindus of the state.

    That is why she is supporting the anti-CAA protests, in the hope that Hindus will continue to remain a divided lot, and Muslims will continue to back her.

Anti-CAA protests in Bengal started a week ago — on Friday, 13 December to be precise — and has been continuing since then.

The first two days, Muslim mobs wrecked railway properties and then police and private vehicles and well as private properties. No action has been taken against the vandals and rioteers till date, though extensive video footage exists of their crimes.

From the third day, Trinamool chief and Bengal Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee took over leadership of the protests, and has since been raving and ranting against the CAA while addressing ‘public’ meetings comprising mostly hired crowds or leading walkathons with her party faithfuls.

At her public meetings, she has been making outrageous statements like calling for a UN-monitored plebiscite to determine support for CAA.

Some of her statements, like likening herself to a rat that will nibble away at a rock (in reference to Union Home Minister Amit Shah’s assertion that the NDA government stands firm like a rock on implementation of CAA) bordered on the ridiculous.

But Mamata Banerjee’s exclusive focus on whipping up opposition to the CAA and leading the protests against the Act are a sign of her growing desperation and panic.

The desperation arises from two counts: the obvious consolidation of Hindus in the face of vandalism by Muslim mobs last week, and the immunity they have been accorded by the state government from prosecution, and the entry of Asaduddin Owaisi’s All India Majlis Ittehadul Muslimeen (AIMIM) in Bengal.

Mamata Banerjee realises that the consolidation of Hindus against her party, and consolidation of Muslims in favour of the AIMIM, is a sureshot recipe for disaster for the Trinamool.

If this becomes a reality, the Trinamool would be wiped off the political map of Bengal in the next Assembly polls due in 2021. She is, obviously, desperate to prevent that from happening.

The Trinamool chief also realises that the images of Muslim mobs attacking and burning trains and railway properties in various parts of the state last week have done incalculable damage to her party’s and government’s image.

Last weekend’s vandalism and rioting by Muslim mobs has angered and outraged Hindus and sharpened the communal divide in Bengal. Mamata Banerjee is well aware of that.

A simple way out for her would have been to go after the rioteers and put them behind bars. But she is handicapped and cannot do that. Any strong action against the Muslim rioteers, she knows, would turn the entire community against her.

The Muslims of Bengal now have a choice: the AIMIM. Police action against the vandals and rioteers who destroyed railway, government and private properties would lead to the inevitable feeling of victimhood and turn Muslims away from the Trinamool into the lap of the AIMIM.

The loss of her Muslim vote bank, even a portion of it, would upset the winning electoral mathematics that she has stitched together and be disastrous for her party at the next hustings.

Mamata Banerjee was thus faced with a tough choice last weekend: regain the trust of the Hindus by cracking down on the criminals who rioted, or keep Muslims happy through inaction.

She has clearly chosen the second of the two alternatives. And to retain her Muslim vote bank and ward off the challenge posed by the AIMIM, she is vociferously opposing the CAA.

The Trinamool chief’s political strategy is that she goes out to retain her Muslim vote bank now, and tackle the alienation among Hindus later.

Hindus form nearly 70 per cent of the state’s electorate and she banks on the fact that this chunk is not a homogenous lot and can be easily divided. Before her, the CPI(M) too had survived for 34 years by uniting the Muslims and dividing the Hindus.

Mamata Banerjee is hoping that despite the Hindu consolidation in Bengal, she will be successful in wooing a sizeable chunk of Hindus before the 2021 polls through sops and symbolism.

For now, her priority is to ensure that Muslims stay with her and continue to be the backbone of support for the Trinamool. Hence, she is going all out to project herself as a trenchant critic and opponent of the CAA, and of the BJP.

That is why Mamata Banerjee is leading rallies, addressing public meetings and giving angry and reckless speeches that even border on the ridiculous.

But all that may not keep her Muslim vote bank intact. And in the process, her blatant Muslim-appeasement and inaction against the criminals responsible for last weekend’s vandalism and riots has resulted in sharpening the communal divide and consolidating Hindus against her and the appeased.

What then remains to be seen is if this is the beginning of the end of Trinamool’s misrule over Bengal.

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