West Bengal Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee, also the Trinamool Congress supremo, has hit the streets again in her usual style of aggressive politics—which she often practiced during her stint as opposition leader of the state against the Left Front government. This time her fiery attack is directed towards the BJP. The reasons are—the Citizenship Amendment Act, 2019, which grants citizenship to the non-Muslim refugees who came to India on or before December 31, 2014, and the nationwide NRC.
There have been violent protests across the state of West Bengal. Strikingly, these protests, unlike the ones of Assam or other parts of the northeast, started much later—almost after four and two days of passing of the Citizenship Amendment Bill in the Lok Sabha and the Rajya Sabha respectively. No doubt, these developments raise eyebrows. The protests weren’t peaceful with agitators vandalising or setting fire to railway stations and trains or even pelting stones to the passing trains, But for Mamata Banerjee, these are “small incidents”.
Actually, the Citizenship Amedment Act and the following violent protests that followed in the state which are mostly organised by the Muslim groups, have landed the ruling Trinamool in a fix. The state ruling party’s fear is that these protests would only strengthen the hands of BJP—the worry as expressed by state minister and Kolkata mayor Firhad Hakim, the party’s key Muslim face. The party can’t afford to take strong actions against the protestors—as it fears that it may offend the core vote bank of the party, the Muslims, who account for 27 per cent of the state population according to the 2011 census. On the other hand, the party also runs the danger of losing the support of the majority Hindus. The saffron party’s massive gains this year in the Lok Sabha elections at the expense of Trinamool was due to the shift of a substantial Hindu vote towards the BJP.