THE false encounter between Narendra Modi and Mamata Banerjee has attracted the media attention in West Bengal. Modi in his public meeting in Srirampur sharply criticised TMC supremo inviting sharper reactions from the TMC. On the face of it, this exchange was bitter; in its essence it was politically complimentary to each other. While Modi tried to channelise strong anti- TMC current in the state away from the Left parties by strong rhetoric, Mamata Banerjee found a suitable target to deflect the attention from the exposure of scams in her regime. Modi bashing was also used to send desperate message to minorities, who are strongly aggrieved by three years of misrule in the state.
The aspirant BJP prime ministerial candidate Narendra Modi has become the face of both the corporates as well as the communal forces. Spending hundreds of crores on the media campaign, Modi is being already projected as the future prime minister of the country. He is being promoted as a face of ‘change’. However, there is not an inch of difference between the neo-liberal economic policies followed by the present Congress led UPA-2 government and those which Modi and BJP stands for. He has already made it amply clear that his coming to the PM’s office means a red carpet welcome for greater foreign capital flows into the country and selling of natural resources into the hands of private owners.
It is very hard to forget that Narendra Modi’s hands are smeared with the blood of hundreds of innocents killed in the 2002 Gujarat riots. But he has never come out and apologised for the wrong-doings of 2002, there is not an iota of guilt for the crimes. Modi who himself began as a RSS sevak, his campaign is being planned and coordinated by the RSS. Numerous RSS cadres have been garnering support for Modi. However, it would not be fully correct to say that a BJP government, under Modi would be a threat only for the minorities. It poses a threat to all, as they stand against all progressive thoughts in the society. This force which threatens the secular and diverse tradition of India needs to be defeated.
Narendra Modi, on his second and third election campaign visit to West Bengal maintained a facade of Mamata bashing, with the motive of splitting votes and making some gains for the BJP. However, in his first visit, he had put forward a hand of alliance towards Mamata, calling for a TMC government in the state and a BJP rule at the centre. In this last leg, Modi and BJP have concerted their efforts to garner the disenchanted TMC votes. On the other hand, Mamata is putting an act of opposing and calling Modi as the face of Gujarat riots. However, it has not been long ago when she went hand-in-hand with the same communal forces.
In 1999, TMC was one of the first allies that the BJP embraced. Mamata Banerjee, the TMC supremo had remarked ‘BJP is not untouchable’. Mamata Banerjee has to take the responsibility of cultivating the seeds of the communal forces such as the BJP, on the soil of communally harmonious West Bengal.
In 1999, with the help of the TMC, BJP was successful in opening its account of winning a seat in the Lok Sabha from West Bengal.
The 2002 Gujarat communal pogrom has been one of the darkest chapters in the history of India; the state run violence and the killing of hundreds of innocent. In the midst of the communal riots, Parliament session commenced on April 15. In this session, the Left raised the slogan of ‘Modi hatao, Gujarat bachao’. The Left together with other opposition groups compelled and spearheaded a discussion and a vote on the motion that “This house is deeply concerned at the failure of the state government to provide protection to the minorities in Gujarat during the communal riots. It urges the state government to take steps to reinstate the faith of the people belonging to the minority and see to their security.”
In the anti-communal convention held in the then Yuvabharati Stadium on April 28, 2002, the then chief minister of West Bengal, Jyoti Basu remarked, “We wanted a discussion on Gujarat in the parliament. Now, let’s see who stands where. ...The people will realise and recognise, who is on which side; who are with the communal and barbaric forces and who are against them.”
It was the TMC who was the first to write and inform Atal Behari Vajpayee that they would vote against the motion in parliament. TMC, then by voting against the motion had saved both the BJP government at the centre and Modi in Gujarat.
The vote in the parliament was taking place at a time when the barbaric forces of the Bajrang Dal were still unleashing their terror on the streets of Gujarat; targeting and killing innocent Muslims, raping and slitting open women. At this time it was not for the protection of the minorities that Mamata stood, but it was for securing Modi.
Krishna Bose in her book An Outsider in Politics has written how Mamata had compelled and coaxed all the TMC MPs to vote in favour of the BJP government. She had issued a whip, for all the MPs to be present and stand in support of the government.
Anandabazar Patrika’s editorial at the same time wrote, “Desperate to get back a ministerial berth in the NDA cabinet, this was a golden opportunity not to be missed by Mamata to please Vajpayee. After this, her any concern for the minorities of Gujarat would look like crocodile tears, as asking for the resignation of Modi would look like a staged act.”(May 1, 2002, Andandabazar Patrika)
After the Gujarat riots, when Modi won the elections by communally polarising the voters, it was Mamata Banerjee who sent a bouquet to congratulate him on his victory. For all her support, Mamata received a return gift in the form of a ministerial berth in the NDA cabinet in September of 2003.
Mamata’s friendly links with the BJP and the RSS didn’t stop here. After this she shared a dais with many RSS leaders; the likes of Mohan Bhagwat, HV Sheshadri, Madandas Debi. The occasion was the release of a RSS mouthpiece Panchajanya edited book, held on September 15, 2003. Mamata’s awe for the RSS came out in her speech, where she remarked “I have never had the opportunity to share the dais with so many RSS leaders before. However, I have met a few of them earlier. You all are symbols of patriotism. I know you love the country.” (The Telegraph: September 16, 2003)
In return Mamata was bestowed by RSS leader Balbir Punj as “Hamari pyari Mamata di Sakshat Durga”. Mamata had asked RSS to support her in defeating the Left in West Bengal. A success in winning the confidence of the Sangh, ensured the coal and mines ministry for Mamata in the Vajpayee cabinet.
In the 2004 Lok Sabha elections too, Mamata was an ally of the BJP. Then also she did not falter to defend the BJP over the Gujarat riots, which had emerged as the main issue in the elections. In 2006, in the West Bengal assembly elections, Mamata again chose the BJP as her partner.
In the last 12 years, there has never been a voice heard criticising Modi or the BJP coming from Mamata Banerjee.
Despite the mock fight, it has been reported in the national media that TMC is in the list of ‘possible’ allies of BJP if it is needed and channels are open.