Breather for Mamata

The Supreme Court has refused to give an urgent hearing to BJP petition on taking out its Rath Yatra in West Bengal. The apex court did not find any reason for an urgent hearing. The case will come up only in the first week of January next, when the courts reopen after the Xmas vacation. This has come as a much needed breather for Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee and the West Bengal Government who feared widespread violation of law and order across the State if the Rath really rolled out from its scheduled starting points. Even though the Rath Yatra has not begun, BJP supporters have started clashing with the police at many places. Even Monday saw policemen on duty being roughed by BJP workers.
Ordinarily, a political party organizing any mass contact programme is perfectly normal in a democracy. But the BJP’s intended Rath Yatra is certainly not an “ordinary” political programme. It has strong communal overtones as it seeks to target certain communities. In districts and in areas which have a mixed population. The communal overtone will only polarize voters along religious lines and create bad blood. That is the reason why the Mamata Government was so much against allowing the BJP to begin the Rath Yatra. It is clearly meant to consolidate the Hindu vote before the coming Lok Sabha elections. Naturally, the State Government feared breach of the peace and other untoward incidents if the Hindutva party had its way.
The cause for immediate anxiety has been shelved for the moment but the danger remains. The order the apex court will give when it re-opens in the first week of the next month will be awaited with bated breath by all concerned. There should have been a unity of all secular parties in West Bengal against any attempt that may disturb peace and social harmony. Unfortunately, the Left and the Congress make no distinction between the TMC and the BJP. To them, Mamata’s resolute battle against the divisive politics of the BJP is a “got-up game”. Their common policy is to give battle to both the TMC and the BJP. This will only weaken the battle against communalism and make Mamata’s task harder. There is no gainsaying the fact that antipathy for Muslims and sympathy for those asserting militant Hindutva find resonance among some sections of the population. The BJP wants to extract the maximum mileage from this sympathy. The State Government will have to follow a firm and flexible policy. But it is on the TMC that the main responsibility of combating Hindutva politically will devolve.

Tuesday, 25 December, 2018