The Politics Behind Mamata Banerjee Over CAA
There were two options for West Bengal Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee.
The first was to support the Citizenship Amendment Act and second was to oppose it.
Supporting the act would result in losing her grip over Muslim vote and opposing it would consolidate her vote bank.
It wasn’t a surprise that she would oppose the bill because the 2019 Lok Sabha election results revealed that the Hindu vote bank had alienated her. And since, the bill was brought by the BJP, she knew that the saffron party would stand to gain Hindu votes in its favour.
Despite the fear of losing Hindu votes, Mamata gambled on one vote-bank that stood by her in Lok Sabha elections, hoping that some Hindus would stick to her even if she opposes CAA to ensure her return to power in 2021.
To win over the Hindu vote, she indulged in symbolic politics of visiting Madan Mohan Temple and offering prayers there, to woo Bengali refugees and Rajbanshi, who hold the key in some pockets of the state.
She is very well aware of the split of Muslim vote in 2014. TMC garnered 40 per cent vote, Left Front (31%) and Congress (24%). In 2019, the Muslim vote per centage for TMC grew 70 per cent, giving her hope to further consolidate her Muslim vote base.
But, this hope could have evaporated, especially after the visuals of lungi-clad skull capped Muslim mobs went on a rampage, burning public property, including thousands of crores worth trains and railway platforms in Murshidabad district.
After these gruesome incidents, Mamata stands on a precarious wicket, fearing she could lose Hindu votes.
The Owaisi Factor
With the skull-capped and lungi-clad Muslims burning trains and railway platforms in Central Bengal, Mamata restrained herself from taking stringent action against the violent mob. One could, sitting in remote place as Kanyakumari, wouldn’t be surprised at the political expediency of Mamata to consolidate Muslim votes, but there is more to the story than that.
The alternative story is – Asaduddin Owaisi factor, whose All India Majlis-e-Ittehadul Muslimeen had announced its decision to contest Bengal elections.
Fearful of losing some of Muslim votes to Owaisi, Mamata, without naming AIMIM, had warned against ‘minority extremism’ while addressing a rally organised by he party in Coochbehar.
In fact, she is so afraid that she has been accused of arresting and threatening AIMIM party workers and warned of legal action against the intimidating tactics, ahead of Owaisi’s preparations for a mega rally in Kolkata in January.
The AIMIM Spokesperson also had challenged Mamata Banerjee saying that his party workers were atom bombs and dare not touch them.
The AIMIM has been clandestinely making inroads in the state by having organisation in all 21 districts, except Purulia and Darjeeling.
In most blocks of the state, the party has 10,000-15,000 members.
Modi’s Inclusive Politics
Mamata Banerjee also realises the potential of the BJP pouring water on her political ambitions. The never-before performance of the saffron party in 2019 Lok Sabha elections indicates the Renaissance of Hindu politics, which had become politically extinct after the initial post-Independence flourish.
She also realises that the majority voters perceive her as a failed administrator, and in Modi, they see the realisation of their dreams.