BJP will try to exploit row over Durga in Bengal polls

The party has been accused of trying to polarise votebanks by playing the communal card.

New Delhi: Struggling to stay in the race, the BJP in West Bengal is all set to make nationalism its main poll plank and subtly play the religion card by raising the Durga controversy in the Assembly elections in the state.

BJP national secretary and West Bengal co-in-charge Siddharth Nath Singh, speaking to this newspaper, made it clear that “nationalism will be our main poll plank in Bengal”. Echoing that sentiment, senior state BJP leader Shishir Bajoria, who switched allegiance from the Left to the saffron party, said: “While I was with the Left, I always had a serious difference with them over nationalism.”

While making nationalism its key plank, the BJP is also planning to deftly play the religion card by raising the Durga controversy to woo Bengali voters. Mr Singh said that during last year’s Durga Puja, the Mamata Banerjee government had delayed immersions as it clashed with the Muharram procession. “This is nothing but appeasement,” Mr Singh said.

He also felt that “projecting Goddess Durga as a sex symbol by the Leftists has hurt the sentiments of Bengal”.

When reminded there were regions in Bengal, including Purulia, where a section of the community worships Mahisashur, Mr Bajoria suddenly refused to be drawn into the controversy. “I do not want to comment on anybody’s faith,” he said.

The BJP, that had initially zoomed up the Bengal charts after its stunning Lok Sabha electoral triumph in 2014, has now slipped down the ladder. The party has been accused of trying to polarise votebanks by playing the communal card. Mr Singh recently tried to paint Trinamul Congress pro-Muslim by alleging that “Mamata Banerjee thinks only about 28 per cent voters”. The Muslim population in West Bengal is roughly around 30 per cent.

The RSS has incidentally also been pushing for extreme nationalism. Its mouthpiece Organiser, in its latest issue, published an article saying: “Anti-national elements have been crossing the thin line between dissent and treason. To save the academic credentials of the institution (JNU), such toxic elements have to be dumped.” The Bengal BJP is all set to toe the line, targeting Jadavpur University vice-chancellor Suranjan Das for not taking action against those students who had raised “anti-India slogans”.

The BJP has decided to aggressively pursue contentious planks as its electoral prospects look grim, with the CPI(M) and the Congress all set to join hands to counter

Trinamul. Speaking to this correspondent from Kolkata, Congress leader and former PCC chief Somen Mitra said: “People in West Bengal want the Congress and Left to join hands against Trinamul.” Despite maintaining a 17 per cent of voteshare, the proposed CPI(M)-Congress alliance against Trinamul has sent alarm bells ringing for the lotus brigade. With the development issue fading, the saffron party has no option but to push for nationalism and play the religion card.

( Source : Deccan Chronicle. )
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