The election is scheduled to be held in eight phases over a period of more than a month. Voting will begin on March 26 and end on April 29 with the eighth round of elections. The results will be released on May 2. All the parties have already gone down in the campaign. The two main opponents in the election are Trinamool and BJP.
Mamata Banerjee’s Trinamool came to power back in 2011. Since then, they have won over 40 percent of the votes in multiple elections in West Bengal. BJP also got a huge number of seats in the last assembly (BidhanShova) elections. Since then, BJP became the main opposition force in West Bengal. And, this time they have started a massive election campaign.
Even though each day someone leaves the Trinamool and joins the BJP, Trinamool is going ahead in the polls! One possible reason is Mamata’s acceptance. The second reason is the impact of the recent peasant movement. Many people think that the peasant movement will have an impact on the West Bengal poll. Thirdly, Trinomool’s position is much better than that of BJP on the question of communalism.
It is normal to have debates and criticisms on the question of political motives and compulsions. We, the people of Bangladesh, have a reservation for Trinamool’s Mamata Banerjee, for the water share of Teesta River. A demand has come up from our civil society for some time that is why the central government of India is not taking initiative to sign the treaty. Indian Foreign Minister Sushma Swaraj said in response, “the Teesta Treaty is not just a matter of these two governments, India & Bangladesh. West Bengal is also a very important stakeholder there. That is why we are repeatedly discussing with Mamata Banerjee.”
Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina visited Delhi last year. During the visit, Mamata offered her an alternative. That was to send the same amount of water to Bangladesh from two or three other rivers (Dharla, Jaldhaka, Shiltorsa etc.) except Teesta. If Mamata wins the election, maybe the talks will go further or may not. But there is no guarantee that the BJP will actually provide Teesta water.
Across the country, BJP has controlled all the states except West Bengal. Certainly if they can occupy this state, communalism and communal riots will increase. In addition, the Muslim population in West Bengal is 24.6 million, which is 26 percent of the total population. When BJP comes to power, it can marginalize them and impose any rough decision.
Recently, Assam’s BJP-led state education minister Himanta Bishwasarma have imposed restrictions on Madrashas & said that he will close government madrassas in the next six months and convert them into schools. This very recent example is quite enough for us to guess the consequence of West Bengal if it accidently gets BJP in its power.
Modi-Amit have taken the occupation of Bengal as a struggle for dignity. With that aim, they initiated the Citizens’ List (NRC) across India, CAA and the Population List (NPR). Even Indian President Ramnath Kobind is taking this strategy forward. In the first session of the Lok Sabha after winning the second term, he said that even if there is no NRC in India, it will be only in the Border States. By this he is referring to West Bengal. Hundreds of so-called Bangladeshis (?) from India have recently been smuggled across the border into Bangladesh through West Bengal. Human rights groups alleged that in the last week of November, a team of 59 people was brought to West Bengal from Bangalore and handed over to the BSF. Three days later that the border was secretly crossed through the northern border of their state. The central government has done all this without the help of the state government. Just imagine what will happen to them if BJP gets elected in the state.
Mamata is well aware that West Bengal is now the jewel in the BJP’s eye and is their biggest target. He is the only enemy in implementing the BJP’s extremist Hindutva agenda. Because, she has led the movement against the NRC, CAA and NPR from the front. Momota said that if she wins the poll, no NRC-CAA will not be allowed in West Bengal. She also warned about the freedom movement if Muslims are expelled from the state. Almost everywhere in the world, People move in countries with common borders. Although India has always said that Bangladesh is its friend, the statistics of the human rights organization Law and Arbitration Center shows that in 2019, 36 Bangladeshis were killed on the border with India. But a year ago, in 2018, the number of such deaths at the border was only 14, with the death toll has tripled in just one year. Such border killings are serious human rights violations.
After years of Felani Khatun’s killing, an agreement was reached to reduce the killings at the Indo-Bangladesh border to zero after a meeting of BSF and BGB directors general in Delhi in 2014 in the face of sheer public demands. However, after the agreement was reached between the two countries, this rate started to decrease. But it never stopped completely. Whether it is BJP or Mamata, a long-term agreement between BSF and BGB is necessary to stop border killings. In addition, when fanatic BJP comes to power, there is high chance of ‘push back’ millions of Muslim Bengalis in Assam on the pretext of ‘infiltrators’. For the interest of their security & Muslim minority, let BJP’s dream of occupying West Bengal remains elusive.
It is seen that as the vote approaches, the constituencies get ignited with the campaign. Only time will say whether Prashant Kishore’s strategy will increase Momota’s vote margins or the BJP’s dream of occupying West Bengal will remain elusive after so many arrangements.
The writer is freelance contributor on national & international issues.