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23 June, 2019 12:01:45 PM
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Why the citadel of Indian democracy is under threat?

Because of the wrong election issue, the wrong leadership and retreating from the main issue of war, the Indian opposition could not form a united and strong resistance to extreme and powerful Hinduism
ABDUL GAFFAR CHOUDHURY
Why the citadel of Indian democracy is under threat?

After the second victory of Narendra Modi in India the trend of world politics towards the far right is almost established. In Britain also Boris Johnson is possibly going to become the next Prime Minister. It is almost certain that Donald Trump will stay in White House in the next term. He has started his campaign for the second term and is roaring like a tiger. His thunderous threat to Iran has made the world population afraid of another conflict in the Middle East. His trade war with China has already made the world economy uncertain. If he dares to start another war in the Middle East that will affect the entire world badly.
In India nobody thought Modi will come back to power with a greater majority than before. For the last five years Narendra Modi's performance was not very good. His personal charisma was diminishing. So many political figures in India including Mamata Banerjee were looking at Delhi with a hope for occupying the throne. But the strong fort of democracy in the West Bengal was also cracked by BJP. Many observers expected as West Bengal was ruled by a Left front for more than 30 years and is a stronghold of secularism, the followers of extreme Hindutva, BJP will not be able to sink its teeth there. But this time BJP took 18 seats of Lok Sabha from West Bengal defeating Mamata's Trinamool.

I have already discussed the election result of India in my previous writings but did not focus on West Bengal politics. This nearest Indian state's political situation is more important to Bangladesh than other states of India. It resonates with Bangladesh like twins—both politically and economically. If extreme Hinduism could spread its wings in the West Bengal after Tripura it may also affect Bangladesh socially and politically. It is a wonder how West Bengal which resisted Modi storm in the last election, could make BJP hopeful to win the next state election this time. Some political analysts say that this time also Modi charisma kept BJP in power with an even greater majority. I do not think this is the whole truth.  

Like Donald Trump Modi's leadership is not acceptable to the elite class of India. The Nobel laureate Dr. Amartya Sen expressed his concern about Modi's leadership in strong language and his surprise at how the people of India could choose such a man as their leader. In my analysis also Modi's charisma during his leadership in the last five years has been much diminished. Before this general elections, in the election of five states BJP's disaster had shaken top leaders of BJP including Modi. On that result political pundits predicted that BJP will win the general election but with less majority and they would need support of other parties to form the government. The election result however, proves that the prediction of the election was wrong. But at the same time it was not Modi's charisma but the strong wind of extreme Hinduism that swept the whole India again. It is Modi and his associate Amit Shah's credit that they revived the demon of extreme Hinduism and damaged the foundation of Indian democracy established by Gandhi and Nehru.

In the last five years the BJP government allowed its associates Shiv Sena and RSS to change the mindsets of majority Hindu people of India, sometimes by propaganda and sometimes by coercion. The repression of minority communities including Hindu Dalits has increased exponentially in India. That is why this general election was supposed to be a fight between extreme Hinduism and secularism. It provided an opportunity for the secular forces of Indian politics to fight Hindutava unitedly and decisively. But the secularist forces including Congress failed to do so especially in the West Bengal. Mamata Banerjee failed to build up the expected resistance in the last bastion of Indian democracy, West Bengal. She turned the election into a personal war against Narnedra Modi. Her high ambition was not to save secularism but to establish herself as a future Prime Minister of India.

Every single one of the so-called secularist parties in India failed to stand for secularism. Their only target was Narendra Modi. When Sonia Gandhi was the Congress leader and won the General election her main election issue was reestablishment of secularism. But this time she along with her son Rahul Gnadhi and Priyanka rushed to the Shiva Temple and wanted to prove that they are also follower of Hinduism but their brand of Hinduism is liberal. Rahul did not stand strongly for secularism or his grandfather's democratic India. His whole campaign was against Narendra Modi personally and his only issue against Modi was his alleged corruption. It did not work but became boomerang for him. He had to apologise to the higher court for some of his allegations. He even lost his family seat of Amethi to BJP.

Other political parties both left and right, including the regional parties or fronts did not take the fight between Hinduism and secularism seriously. Once a regional leader Deve Gowda became the Prime Minister of India, so the regional leaders like Akhilesh, Jayalalitha, even Mamata thought that if they could defeat Narendra Modi they would sit on the throne of Delhi. They could neither choose unitedly nor announce a name as to who would become the next Prime Minister if they won the election. Rahul's name was a possibility not a certainty. Modi won the election easily without facing a strong contender.

In West Bengal BJP's success in the election was not unexpected. Mamata did get a warning in Tripura when their Left government collapsed and BJP won the power. Ignoring the warning Mamata continued her repression of the Left forces. Mihir Ganguly, a prominent columnist from West Bengal wrote in the Bengali Daily Statesman that Mamata did not consider her real enemy and the enemy of secularism — BJP. She wanted to make West Bengal a state without any opposition and she thought her main opponent was the Left forces who ruled the state for more than 30 years. Her repression was such that the followers of Bam (left) took shelter in Ram's camp and cast their votes this time for the camp of Ram (26 May 2019).

BJP somehow escaped from this torture because they were enjoying power in the centre. But there were mutual clashes and killings between them. Yes, it is true that Mamata made West Bengal free from left opponents and created a vacuum but that vacuum was gradually occupied by BJP. Mamata's dream for conquering Delhi vanished. Political observers fear that in the next election BJP may come to power in West Bengal. There is another factor for the disaster of Trinamool for West Bengal politics. When Mamata first came to power she called Hasina her elder sister and Hasina also congratulated her on her victory. But very soon she was surrounded by powerful Bihari syndicates who are strongly anti-Bangladesh and anti-Hasina government. This Bihari Muslims before the war of 71, known as Muhajirs fled to West Bengal during the war of independence of Bangladesh.

These syndicates are now economically and politically more powerful than local Bengali Muslim community and like previous CPM government, Mamata government also depended on their vote and support. To keep them happy Mamata had to change her Bangladesh policy and even opposed the treaty between Bangladesh and India over Teesta water. She also tried to woo the Muslim community by giving monthly allowances for the khatib of mosques and financial help for madrassah education. BJP took the opportunity and strongly propagated that Mamata has started appeasing the minority communities especially Muslims by depriving the Hindu communities mercilessly. These policies temporarily gave success to Trinamool but it became a strong weapon for BJP’s of election propaganda. It also helped them to gain in politics in West Bengal.

Because of the wrong election issue, the wrong leadership and retreating from the main issue of war, the Indian opposition could not form a united and strong resistance to extreme and powerful Hinduism. They turned it into a personal war against Modi without any unity and united goal. It was especially true of West Bengal. By crushing the left democratic opposition (Bam) in West Bengal, Mamata herself paved the way for Ram to rise in West Bengal which had been the citadel of Indian democracy for the last half a century. Bangladesh also has something to learn from West Bengal.

 London, Friday 21 June, 2019

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Published by the Editor on behalf of Independent Publications Limited at Media Printers, 446/H, Tejgaon I/A, Dhaka-1215.
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Editor : M. Shamsur Rahman
Published by the Editor on behalf of Independent Publications Limited at Media Printers, 446/H, Tejgaon I/A, Dhaka-1215.
Editorial, News & Commercial Offices : Beximco Media Complex, 149-150 Tejgaon I/A, Dhaka-1208, Bangladesh. GPO Box No. 934, Dhaka-1000.

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