oppn parties Communal Politics Harming Bengal

News Snippets

  • Police stop a 12-year old girl on her way to the Sabarimala shrine
  • In Karnataka, the JD(S) indicates that it might support the BJP government if it falls short of numbers after the bypolls
  • Congress pips the BJP in local body elections in Rajasthan, winning 961 wards to the BJPs 737
  • After Airtel and Vodafone-Idea, Jio also indicates that tariffs will be raised from December
  • Sources in Shiv Sena say that they might revive the alliance with the BJP if it offers the 50:50 deal
  • A miffed Sanjay Rout of the Shiv Sena says that it will take "100 births" to understand Sharad Pawar
  • Mobile operators Vodafone-Idea and Airtel decide to raise tariffs from next month
  • Sharad Pawar meets Sonia Gandhi and says more time needed for government formation in Maharashtra
  • Justice S A Bobde sworn in as the 47th Chief Justice of India
  • Supreme Court holds hotels liable for theft of vehicle from their parking area if parked by valet, says "owner's risk" clause is not a shield from such liability
  • Finance Minister says she is receiving feedback from many sectors that recovery is happening as there is lower stress
  • Sabarimala temple opens, but police bar the entry of women below 50 years
  • Finance Minister Nirmala Sitharaman says Air India and BPCL to be sold off by March
  • Media person Rajat Sharma resigns as DDCA president
  • Shiv Sena, NCP and Congress postpone meeting the governor of Maharashtra
Two Muslim litigants in Ayodhya refuse to accept the Supreme Court order, say review petition might be filed
oppn parties
Communal Politics Harming Bengal

By Sunil Garodia

About the Author

Sunil Garodia Editor-in-Chief of indiacommentary.com. Current Affairs analyst and political commentator. Writes for a number of publications.
What is happening in Bashirhat, about 100 kilometres away from Kolkata in West Bengal, is shameful and dangerous. After the Muslim community took exception to a post about Prophet Mohammed on Facebook, things went out of hand and both communities indulged in arson, looting and rioting. Claims and counter claims abound about who attacked first, who suffered more and why things went out of hand. The role of the local MLA, former footballer Dibyendu Biswas of the TMC, the local administration and the police has been questioned. Biswas has been summoned by the TMC brass to Kolkata to answer about his alleged involvement in allowing musclemen from one community to target people from the other. The police have been alleged to have favoured one community. The TMC has alleged that local and national BJP leaders made provocative statements that inflamed passions in the area. This is certainly not the way things should have been handled.

When the defamatory Facebook post surfaced, the police and the administration should have anticipated a flare-up. They should have called local Muslim leaders and made it known to them that they were taking all steps mandated by the IT Act and IPC to bring the offender to book. They should have also pressed upon them the futility of organizing local street protests about something that did not have local connotations. Simultaneously, they should have called local Hindu leaders to tell them about Muslim grievances and the need to assuage feelings. But nothing of the sort happened. Rowdies in both communities were given a free hand and things went from bad to worse within a short span of time. Neighbours living in harmony for decades turned enemies for no reason at all.

Mamata Banerjee’s government has a good record of maintaining communal peace. But first Howrah and now Bashirhat have raised questions about the intentions of the administration. As the BJP jostles to gain political space in the state, the large Muslim community feels its political importance will be reduced. At such a time, the TMC feels that it should side with the community. But this move is backfiring as more and more people think it is a policy of appeasement. Of course it will work to BJP’s favour as it wants to consolidate the Hindu vote in the state. Didi has a tough job on her hands as she needs to keep her Muslim vote bank intact without further alienating the Hindus. But this communal politics is eating at the vitals of Bengal.