Insiders in West Bengal claims that anyone who is non-TMC in the public stands is finding it difficult to survive in the State. The recent killing of two Dalit students in Islampur is an example of the same violent political culture manufactured by Mamata Banerjee. Organiser Correspondent Nishant Kr Azad and Sub-editor Shaan Kashyap talked to BJP leader Mukul Roy to understand the politics of Mamata, language tussle between Bangla and Urdu, the rise of BJP in the State, and on many other crucial issues
BJP leader Mukul Roy
Q. Why did you leave TMC and joined BJP when TMC remains in power in Bengal?
It is a question of morality for me. Had there been no BJP, TMC would have never existed. In 1998, when Mamata Banerjee was expelled from the Congress, BJP extended her full support. After that, TMC contested elections while extending outside support to the NDA. In 1999, Mamata contested elections as an NDA ally; she also became the Minister of Railways. Up to 2008, Mamata was very much with the BJP, and then she allied with the Congress to corner Left in Bengal, since being with BJP would not have got her Muslim votes.
She has no ethics and no logic. Leaders like me fought along Mamata with the Left on many issues, prominently including the issue that there is no Democracy in Bengal. But what did we see subsequently? In the recently concluded Panchayat elections, 34 per cent people were not allowed to file their nomination, over 20 persons were killed, post-poll a few people were killed again. In Bengal, now the question is, whether Democracy will survive or not? My fight remained for the restoration of democracy in Bengal, and that’s why I left TMC!
Q. How do you see the recent killing of two Dalit students in Islampur?
In Darivit High School (Islampur), students are mostly Bangla-speaking. Out of the total of 47 teachers, only 17 are equipped. The students wanted a Bangla teacher, but an Urdu teacher was sent instead. It is not a fight between Hindus and Muslims, but a fight for language. We are aware of what happened when in 1952; Western Pakistan imposed Urdu on Bangla speaking Eastern Pakistan. The Bhasha-Aandolan which took shape in East Pakistan (now Bangladesh) still inspires us! The struggle in Bengal now is one that of language.
It is not a fight between Hindus and Muslims, but a fight for language. We are aware of what happened when in 1952; Western Pakistan imposed Urdu on Bangla speaking Eastern Pakistan In Islampur, the struggle didn’t intensify because students were agitating. Villagers accompanied them as well. Even though the deceased Tapas Burman and Rajesh Sarkar were Hindus, their dead bodies have still not been cremated. The villagers have demanded a further enquiry by CBI. The protestors have also approached the President of India seeking justice.
Q. How is Muslim appeasement of TMC harming Bengal?
Appeasement to anyone is not good. It is not desirable for our society and culture. This politics of appeasement is destroying the Bengali culture and creed.
Q. In recent decades, Bengal has seen the normalisation of political violence. You have seen Bengal politics from close quarters over three decades. What is your opinion regarding it?
Bengal, now, is not a democracy. No Opposition parties are being allowed to function there. If BJP functionaries raise their voices, they are taken under custody, and a case of narcotics is slapped. In my forty years long career, there were no charges against me. But within one year, they have filed 27 cases against me. It is the scenario. All the BJP workers are on the target!
Bengal, now, is not a democracy. No Opposition parties are being allowed to function there. If BJP functionaries raise their voices, they are taken under custody, and a case of narcotics is slapped. All the BJP workers are on the target! Q. Many insiders in Bengal claim that the current Mamata Banerjee regime has surpassed even CPI (M) in drawing the State to backwardness. What do you feel about this?
Mamata took over the Government when the debt was 1, 96, 000 crore; now it has reached more than 3 lakh crore. The education, industrialisation, job opportunities, infrastructures and all the indices of development are crumbling in the State. People in Bengal are not ready to accept the Left now. And that’s why Mamata comes back to power because there was no other viable political alternative in the past. But things are changing now.
Q. Recently an illegal arms factory was found in Shersahi (near Bangladesh border) under Kaliachak PS of Malda district. Two arms manufacturer Shahabuddin and Md Tamrez were arrested, but factory owner Farid Sheikh is absconding. How do you see this?
In Bengal, there have been explosions everywhere in party offices, let it be Midnapore, Birbhoom and Murshidabad. Even one member of the TMC was found with AK47. Mamata’s politics is patronising the criminalisation of politics vehemently. Everything which was wrong with the Left has been taken up by Mamata. To sum her up, she is Left plus hooliganism and a big threat to democracy in Bengal.
Q. Has BJP succeeded in emerging as a strong force in the State?
BJP did well in the Panchayat elections. Now, after the elections were over, elected candidates were taken in custody. At least 2,000 elected candidates were residing outside Bengal because of the fear. There is also this issue of illegal immigrants in the State. Of course, we are ready to accept those people who are Hindus, Buddhists and Jains, but we are going to oppose severely those who are infiltrators. The manner in which BJP is growing in Bengal, I guarantee, TMC will not reach even the halfway mark!
Q. Why does Mamata Banerjee persistently attacks RSS?
RSS is a social organisation; their members can go and visit anywhere. However, Mamata and her party leaders are attacking them to hide their failures and win over the Muslims.