Assam Riots : Bengal’s Lesson


From The President's Desk

Tapan Ghosh
 

The recent riots in Assam are a warning bell for Hindus in West Bengal. The Hindus of Assam have been shaken up from slumber, but that cannot be said for their counterparts in Bengal. A large fraction of Hindus from rural Bengal and a small urban populace seem to have taken note. But the political parties have a lot to lose if the Hindus truly wake up. While the Trinamool Congress appears to have taken a lead, others are not lagging far behind. The Muslim leadership has been politically pragmatic, keeping their votes bankable. With a goal to secure minority votes, a slew of steps taken by the chief minister herself, seem to defy sanity.
 
Hindus of Assam have indeed woken up. But it may be too late to make a difference in many places including southern Assam and Barak valley. In Kokrajhar and Chirang districts, Muslims faced severe retaliation and was overwhelmed by Bodo tribals although non-Bodo Hindus remained muted spectators. Interestingly and quite uniquely, the state government lead by the chief minister Tarun Gogoi went against conventional wisdom of appeasing the Muslim vote-bank over the month long riot. On the contrary, in many cases he came out in support of the Bodo Hindus. Needless to say, as a shrewd politician, his actions are driven by political pragmatism rather than love for Hindus. A bit of introspection bring out the obvious. After being traditionally Congress supporters, the Muslims had recently flouted an Islamic political party (AIUDF) lead by Badruddin Ajmal, which secured 18 legislative assembly seats and became the second largest political entity. In effect, it decimated the Congress’ dependence of Muslim votes forcing a seasoned politician like Gogoi to target and secure the Hindu votes for political survival. As a result of consolidation of Hindu votes, Congress lead Gogoi secured 78 of 126 seats – a comfortable majority that also strengthened his position in Delhi in spite of losing minority votes.
 
In contrast, the chief minister of West Bengal has moved in the opposite direction of appeasement. She has already promised to rehabilitate the illegal Bangladeshi immigrants fleeing Assam. The rationale behind her actions seem to be to pay the highest possible price to secure the Muslim vote-bank, while the Hindu votes remain divided. Consequently, the condition of Hindus in 75 blocks spread across 10 districts became turned from bad to worse. Herein lies the lesson for Bengali Hindus. Assamese Hindus have shown enormous foresight in  hedging their future on Congress. Their calculations could very well have gone wrong. A divided Hindu vote, resulting in anything short of a clear majority would have forced Congress to seek a coalition government with the Islamist AIUDF, making them vulnerable to Ajmal’s demands. In the end, the Hindus in Assam have secured a tactical victory. The BJP on the other hand, had their seats reduced from 10 to 5 pursuing the mirage of minority votes. While not resorting to violence as in Assam, Hindus here must take cue from unfolding incidents in Assam to secure its future.
 
Hindu Samhati regularly monitors and reports violations against Hindus in West Bengal. We also work with both governmental and NGO agencies for proper education on protection and ensure remedies to the Hindu populace as per prevailing law of the land.
 
 Source :  Swadesh Samhati Sambad (English) :  (http://www.hindusamhati.org/SS201211E.pdf

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