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Mainstream, VOL 62 No 10, March 9, 2024

Saffron ecosystem exposes its design to destabilise Mamata and remove her from power | Arun Srivastava

Saturday 9 March 2024, by Arun Srivastava


by Arun Srivastava

Majority of the intelligentsia and illuminati, the conscience keepers, have been responsible for degeneration of secularism. ethical values and laying the red carpet for the majestic entry of the fascist and rightist BJP in the Indian polity. These people have been simply enjoying their adoration sitting in their ivory homes. They never bothered to caution or warn the political forces claiming to be secularists from digressing or taking the invasion of the rightist forces in an unpretentious way. Unfortunately, they were more concerned of their self-glorification.

Regrettably this perspective continues to chaperone their actions. For last ten years the common people of the country has been groaning under the anti-democratic and divisive policies as well as politics of the RSS and BJP, but these people refrained from raising their voice against the conceited actions of Narendra Modi approved by the RSS. Baring a few protest statements by some intellectuals and academics they never bothered to challenge him and question his actions

While their procrastination has simply encouraged the fascist forces to be more aggressive and perpetrate repression on the common people, as is evident from what has been happening in Manipur and Kashmir, it has turned common people quivery. Series of lynchings and hate campaigns has impaired their confidence to rise in protest.

Their passive silence to the fascist and autocratic rule sends a clear message across the social set-up that they are scared of losing their status if they look straight into the eyes of Modi and warn him. Or, their hesitation simply underlines that they are so meek to tell RSS chief and also to Modi not to annihilate the social and democratic character of the country. Obviously when a conscience keeper fails to muster courage to call a spade a spade, it would simply an act of stupidity to expect that a common people will question Modi and RSS.

Instead of discharging their righteous task, they on the contrary they have been using their intellect and academic image to further badger the common people. For a year I have been noticing that a few such literati who claim to be pro-people and believers of Marxism have consistently been predicting in their columns of Modi coming back to power for the third consecutive term. They may be right in their perception. But must be aware that perception pays and helps. They ought to realise that their writings would confuse the common people.

Nevertheless, one thing is absolutely clear that their write ups are not based on concrete evaluation of subjective or objective condition prevailing in the country. These are based on their own perception. Since they claim to be pro people and believers in Marxist ideology, I have one specific question to them; do they think that what Modi has been doing is politically correct? A positive reply would certainly not be of much surprise. During last ten years of Modi rule, many Marxists have come to believe in the philosophy of soft Hindutva.

Nonetheless my main question to such persons is; Have they ever counselled the secular and pro-people forces about the mechanism which ought to be adopted to fight the fascist and rightist forces; what has been their contribution to the effort of unifying the secular and rightist forces?;did they help the anti-fascist forces by framing a common minimum political agenda?; why these people have not interacted with the political forces and their leaders to evolve a mechanism to motivate the people to fight against the Modi’s misrule? There are many questions which need a reply from these conscience keepers.

Their prediction in fact has a confusing impact on the opposition group and equally the people. They form the impression that since it is coming from these people naturally this is true. In this backdrop, they are even reluctant to believe the information about BJP’s weaknesses from other sources.

RSS and BJP prefer to stoop quite low and have not been averse to using all the tools available to intimidate their secular and liberal political and social opponents, the intelligentsia has been reluctant to call and expose their machination. Let us take two recent incidents which took place in Bengal. It is not a secret that RSS and Modi have been resorting to all kinds of manoeuvres to destabilise the Mamata Government.

For long the RSS has been striving to create a strong base in the state. Initially the RSS especially relied on its non-Bengali pracharaks and volunteers to reach out to the people. Though they targeted Bengali population, their main focus was on non-Bengalis. They could not succeed in their mission. After the BJP came to power in Delhi, their intensified their activities. During the last ten years their target has been the poor Bengali Hindus in rural areas and non-Bengali EBC people who have settled after migrating from Bihar and Eastern UP:.

Since 2017,just after Sarada and Narada scam got exposed and a number of TMC leaders who were involved in these scams, prominent being Suvendhu Adhikar, switched their allegiance to BJP, the RSS increased its thrust. It cannot be denied that have made a strong base in these two social sectors. They have been waiting for some time to declare their arrival. And the opportunity was provided by the Sandeshkhali incident.

RSS has been secretly consolidating its base in the state gets manifest in Calcutta High Court’s Justice Abhijit Ganguly resigning as the judge and joining BJP. Ganguly sitting on the bench would consistently rebuke the TMC government and pass orders against it. His remarks against TMC, just after quitting the office, reflects the hard work done by the RSS to win over the elite and educated section of Bengali society.

His hatred and contempt for Mamata got reflected in his remarks just after announcing his resignation; “Trinamul Congress means corruption, corruption means Trinamul Congress”. He also remarked; “Will they survive 2024? Will the party remain till 2026? Just two or three arrests and the party will vanish. It has already started imploding. Trinamul is not a political party. It is a jatra (folk theatre) party.”

He was highly critical of Mamata’s nephew, Akbishek Banerjee though did not name him; “They have a taal-patar sipahi, who is addressed as general. I won’t say his name, it is a slang”. Quite interestingly he dismissed the Narada case in which a number of TMC, most of whom are now in BJP and holding senior position in the party, including the leader of opposition Suvendu Adhikari were caught on camera accepting money from a fictitious company as a “conspiracy. The videos of the “sting operation” were released by the BJP just ahead of the 2016 Assembly polls. “Narada was not even a sting operation. It was a conspiracy to frame some senior leaders. It has to be unearthed first who had hatched the conspiracy. Interrogation in the Alchemist case is the first step towards that,” Ganguly said.

In the backdrop of his remark, all his judgments and orders regarding the state ought to be reviewed. Since he nurse severe abhorrence towards TMC and Mamata, his verdicts could not be described as fair and impartial. Otherwise too, on one occasion Abhishek Banerjee had spoken out against him. But he did not retaliate as many skeletons would have tumbled out.

Mamata had used Nandigram popular protest for preserving the land for ascending to power. Adopting same tactics BJP is using Sandeshkhali incident to win the rural voters away from TMC. In Sandeshkhali too the BJP is exploiting the issue of grabbing of land by Shajahan and his aides. But there is a difference. Mamata had brought the Muslim and Hindu women together on a single platform. But the BJP is banking on the mobilisation of the Hindu women.

The genesis of the violence and protest in Sandeshkhalilies lies in the attack on the team of ED officials when they went to search the premises of TMC muscleman Shajahan Sheikh on January 5. Quite intriguingly on that day the villagers, especially the women had led the protest against ED. The agency had alleged that three of its officials were injured and their belongings like laptops, mobile phones and purses were "looted" in a mob attack on them.

But in a sudden change of the mood of the people, exactly after one month of the earlier incident the women of the region on February 8 resorted to massive agitation levelling serious allegations of sexual assault by TMC strongman Sheikh Shajahan and his aides. Of the two FIRs, one has been filed alleging gang rape against two TMC leaders Uttam Sardar and Shibaprasad Hazra. The second FIR has been registered against Hazra and his two aides – Amir Ali Gaji and Bhanu Mondol, police said. Hazra the prime accused in the case of alleged land grab and sexual harassment case has since been arrested.

What is most unfortunate is the poor women are being used by saffron ecosystem for political gains. Saffron ecosystem is playing with their dignity. The BJP is desperate to use them to malign and tarnish the image of TMC and especially Mamata Banerjee and swing the mood of the women voters across the state in its favour. If the sources are to believed, the RSS has prepared the ground work during the month-long period, after the attack on ED team. If the sources are to be believed the RSS has been using the Hindu women to hit the streets.

The enlightened Bengali intelligentsia and conscience keepers instead of prodding the incident subscribed the allegations of the BJP. The reason for their subscribing to the RSS and BJP narrative has been the projection of Mamata as arrogant and patron of criminals, who has failed to provide a good governance. But at the same time these people tend to forget that most of leaders who were involved in scams, have switched over their loyalty to BJP:.

It is indeed shocking that these highly acclaimed intellectuals forgot the basic tenet that rightist and fascist forces are known to resort to this strategy to malign the secular and liberal forces. Unfortunately the Marxists who claim to be the vanguard of fighting the rightist forces have been following the political line of the BJP: Their opposition to Mamata has simply reinforced the belief of the social elites and intelligentsia that Mamata is anti people force.

The situation has been complicated the manner in which the case has been handled by the judiciary. Throi8gh its actions the judiciary tried to send the message that Bengal is the lost case. After the February 8 violent protest, BJP has launched a disparaging campaign against the TMC government and blaming Mamata Banerjee for protecting the don Shahjahan. A day after TMC general secretary and her nephew, Diamond Harbour MP Abhishek Banerjee came out fiercely blaming the judiciary for the delay in the arrest of Shahjahan.

He blurted; “Sheikh Shahjahan is being guarded by the judiciary, and I want to put this on record, so that Sandeshkhali stays in the limelight, so that Sandeshkhali continues to burn. Trinamul Congress did not spare Partha Chatterjee, Jyotipriya Mullick, who is Sheikh Shahjahan?”

His outburst even forced the Chief Justice of Calcutta High Court Justice T S Sivagnanam to speak out that there was no restriction on the Bengal Police to arrest the absconding Trinamul functionary and North 24-Parganas zilla parishad functionary Sheikh Shahjahan. He said; “We clarify there is no stay on arrest in any proceeding. The stay was on the special investigation team formed earlier”.

It is worth mentioning that on January 16, Justice Jay Sengupta of the Calcutta high court had ordered a joint probe by the Bengal police and CBI, following a petition filed by the ED, days after its officials were attacked, to hand over the probe to the central agency. But as Abhishek pointed out; “Some days later ED sought a stay which was granted by the high court. The high court gave the stay order, they have tied the hands of the state police, not Mamata Banerjee.”

Heaven would not have fallen if the Bengal police and CBI jointly had undertaken the task of investigation. Nonetheless ED filed a petition before a division headed by Chief Justice T S Sivagnanam, seeking permission to investigate the case independently. Also, the division bench stayed the proceedings and probe by the state police in an order issued on February 7. It also stalled investigation into the case till the next hearing which is scheduled for March 6. The central agencies ED and CBI were given permission to oppose any anticipatory bail plea filed by Shahjahan.

ED move to keep Bengal police away from the investigation was a shrewd ploy to give a bad name to it. It is worth recalling that nearly a year back Amit Shah on his visit to Bengal had come out with the suggestion to set up a full fledged office of NIA in the state on the plea that Bengal and Kolkagta police was maintaining a working relation with the police of other state, in this case specifically Delhi police. Amit Shah nursed the view that Bengal police should follow his diktat.

Under a well-defined design, the state BJP has been trying to use the judicial process to its advantage. Ever since Mamata Banerjee became the chief minister for the third term in 2021, BJP has become quite proactive and frequently reaches out to the High Court. The same tactics is being utilised by ED and CBI. the Calcutta High Court has been buzzing with matters that have dominated the political discourse of the State.

Ity is an open secret that ED at the direction of it political boss has been using its all might to malign the image of Mamata and destabilise her government. ED and CBI have undertaken the strenuous task to project the Calcutta police as the most inefficient and unprofessional force. Basically this is the reason that they have impressing upon the High Court to handover all the cases either political or nonpolitical to them . Unfortunately the HC too has been conceding to their request.

The Calcutta High Court on March 5 ordered transfer of the probe into an attack on ED officials at Sandeshkhali on January 5 from the Bengal Police to the CBI. The court also directed that the custody of TMC leader Shahjahan Sheikh, who was arrested by the West Bengal police on February 29 in connection with the attack, be handed over to the central agency. It is interesting to watch that the CBI requested the HC after two months of the incident. The credibility of the CBI has been known to even a layman; a Supreme Court bench had described it as parrot.

Nevertheless one thing is absolutely clear that RSS and BJP intend to present the Sandeshkhali episode as the model of Mamat’s governance; criminalisation of politics and also the governance. This is also manifest in Modi’s three visit to Sandeshkhali and its adjoining areas. Modi has been on the mission to project Sandeshkhali incident as the brutal criminal act of TMC goons against women of the area.

Modi in his speech at Sandeshkhali had blamed Mamata for the deterioration of the law and order in the state. He had sought to know; “The ones who speak of Ma-Mati-Manush, what have they done with the women of Sandeshkhali? It has enraged the country. Raja Rammohan Roy’s soul must be pained at the activities of these people at Sandeshkhali,”. Modi had accused Mamata of protecting the guilty. “When the sisters of Sandeshkhali raised their voice and asked Mamatadidi for help, what did she and her government do? They used their energies to protect their own leaders,” Modi said.

Saffron ecosystem and even Modi by referring to Shahjahan was trying to polarise the people of Bengal. Modi said Trinamul’s alleged arrogance stemmed from its confidence in the support of minorities and said this would change. “The people of Bengal are asking the Bengal chief minister, are the votes of some people more important than the aggrieved women of Sandeshkhali? You should be ashamed. Their arrogance will be shattered this time. Muslim mothers and sisters too will come forward now to uproot the Trinamul government.” Almost one in three voters in Bengal is a Muslim.

What a paradox who did not visit Manipur to console and assuage the hurt feelings of the women who were raped and paraded naked on the street of Imphal, was seen shedding crocodile tear at the plight of the women of Sandeshkhali: “The entire country is watching what those who beat the drum of Maa-Mati-Manush have done in Sandeshkhali”. It is indeed unbelievable that how could RSS, BJP and even Modi stoop so low to impair the prestige and dignity of women of the area for electoral gains. Modi’s minister Smriti Irani projected Sandeshkhali incident as more grievous and heinous than the rape and killing of hundreds of women in Manipur and not holding her mentor Narendra Modi as guilty for not visiting Manipur deserves appreciation.

Only a politically naïve or a person having crooked mind could project Sandeshkhali incident as more heinous to what has been happening in Manipur during the past one year. Hundreds of poor women have been raped and paraded naked on the streets by the mercenaries enjoying the patronage of the ruling party. While Modi not visiting Manipur has failed to shake the conscience of Irani, she is critical of Rahul for not visiting Sandeshkhali. Her approach towards Manipur makes one shiver that the modesty and prestige of the women of Manipur do not matter for her and her patron Modi.

Significantly the legal service authority has received 1250 complaints at its camps. Majority of these complaints are related to unauthorised occupation and alterations in land titles. The camps in the Sandeshkhali Block 2,which witnessed large protest have received largest number of complaints, close to 1,000 complaints.

These figures contradict the claims of the state BJP leaders that large number of women were raped and tortured. If the women can file two complaints, they can also file hundreds of such cases against the TMC leaders. Why they did not file more cases. Certainly it was not of fear of reprisal. Had they been scared of reprisal and retaliation by the TMC goons, in that case they would not mustered courage to file the two cases. He camps which started functioning from February 18, according to the government officials have also received applications highlighting difficulties in accessing the state’s welfare schemes.

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