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Changing political scenario in West Bengal: BJP woos Muslims, Mamata toes ‘soft Hindutva’ line

While the BJP, known for its pro-Hindutva stand, is trying to woo Muslims, the TMC which was accused of following policy of minority appeasement, is now being seen as toeing soft Hindutva line.

India TV Politics Desk Edited by: India TV Politics Desk Kolkata Updated on: January 11, 2018 23:17 IST
Image Source : PTI West Bengal BJP leaders join hands during a BJP minority convention in Kolkata on Thursday

The political approach of two leading political parties in West Bengal has undergone a massive change in recent times. 

While  the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP), known for its pro-Hindutva stand, is trying to woo Muslim electorate in the state, the ruling Trinamool Congress (TMC) which was accused of following policy of minority appeasement, is now being seen as toeing “soft Hindutva” line. 

As part of its new approach, the BJP on Thursday organised a Muslim meet at Mohammad Ali Park in Kolkata.

Mukul Roy, who had joined the saffron party in November last year, was the main organiser of today’s event and he was joined by  BJP’s Bengal unit chief Dilip Ghosh, BJP’s Minority Morcha head Abdul Rasheed Ansari at the function.

Roy said that Muslims in Maharashtra, Gujarat and Uttar Pradesh are supporting the BJP and exuded confidence that in West Bengal too the minority community will repose their confidence in the party during the polls.

Roy criticised chief minister Mamata Banerjee for not taking a stand on the 'triple talaq' issue. 

"She (Banerjee) is saying that the triple talaq (bill) is defective...How is it defective, she wouldn't say. When a discussion was held on the bill in Parliament, her party remained silent," Roy said, adding "a clear stand" on the issue might anger a section of her party leaders. 

Roy, once the second in-command in the TMC, said, "She (Banerjee) is claiming that she has given jobs to lakhs of youths of this state. I want the state government to give us the data regarding it..."

Banerjee had last week described the bill which makes instant triple talaq a criminal offence as "defective" and said it would do Muslim women more harm than good.

In Bengal, Muslims comprise 30 per cent of the total population of 9 crore and hold key to form the government. 

Abdul Rasheed Ansari said that Congress, Left and Trinamool Congress have doing nothing for the minorities of the state and asked the ruling TMC to publish data on the number of jobs offered to Muslim youths over the last six years. He said that these parties have only given slogans to Muslims.

Triple talaq crusader Najia Ilahi Khan, who had joined the BJP last week, said that Muslims are now realising which party is working for their welfare.

Dilip Ghosh accused the Mamata Banerjee-led government of making 'false promises" for political benefits. 

"I want to ask her about the measures she has taken in the last six years for the Muslims of the state. She (chief minister Mamata Banerjee) has only made false promises... Whenever election approaches she tries to project herself as the messiah of Muslims by branding the BJP as demons," Ghosh said. 

Listing various development projects that the Narendra Modi-led central government has initiated since 2014, Ghosh asked the state government to enumerate the projects it has taken up for minorities. 

The BJP is serious about development of Muslims as it believes in the policy of "Sabka Sath, Sabka Vikas" (Development for all), he said. 

Meanwhile, WB Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee has extended her best wishes to the pilgrims visiting the Sagar Island for the Ganga Sagar fair beginning today.

"My best wishes to all the pilgrims who have congregated at Sagar Islands for the annual Ganga Sagar Mela. We have made all arrangements for the smooth management of this grand assembly of humanity," she wrote on her Twitter handle.

"My heartiest welcome to all pilgrims to Ganga Sagar Mela. To make your entire journey to, and stay at, Ganga Sagar Mela successful and safe, the Bengal Government has taken a lot of measures," the CM said in another special message meant for the pilgrims. 

Lakhs of pilgrims from far corners of India and countries such as Bangladesh and Nepal have already arrived in the city to participate in the annual fair held in South 24 Parganas district. The pilgrims assemble at the Sagar Island to take a dip on the occasion of Makar Sankranti on January 14-15 and offer prayers at the Kapil Muni Ashram. 

The West Bengal government has announced that it would be providing an insurance coverage of Rs 5 lakh to those visiting this year's Ganga Sagar Mela. 

From last few weeks, Banerjee’s TMC has changed its approach towards Hindu and has been organising events and promising soaps for the community. Banerjee had event in recent past visited temples and maths to woo the Hindus. Her party had even organised a Brahmin Sammelan in Birbhum district and felicitated around 1500 priests with a Bhagvad Gita, shawl and a photograph of Swami Vivekananda, Ramkrishna Paramhansa and Saradha Ma. 

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