Kolkata: Since the mandate of Bengal assembly polls was delivered in May, Bharatiya Janata Party, who has been drubbed in the election raised several issues, from communalizing post poll violence to going to the High Court to oppose bail of TMC’s Narada accused leaders and are now raising a demand for a separate North Bengal state.
But, it seems, like two other times, this time again, it did not go well and put the party leaders on the defensive.
Central BJP leaders including president JP Nadda had held a virtual meeting with the party’s district chiefs in Bengal on Sunday. Sources said, some district chiefs in north Bengal had flagged alleged infiltration from Bangladesh and attacks on party workers in the region and underscored north Bengal’s strategic importance.
According to The Telegraph report, a BJP insider said, “The district chiefs told the central leaders that if north Bengal was declared a Union Territory, those issues could be addressed. They also mentioned that the party enjoyed considerable support in north Bengals was evident from the 2019 Lok Sabha polls and the recent Assembly elections”, said a BJP insider.
A vernacular daily in Kolkata also reported that BJP leaders have written a letter to the central government seeking the same.
But a new spectre of separating north Bengal has been strongly condemned by chief minister Mamata Banerjee. The chief minister was livid. Reacting sharply on the topic, she said, “There is no difference between north and south Bengal as both are part of West Bengal. There is no discrimination. We will not have anyone play the divide-and-rule here.”
She said that no such thing can be done without the knowledge of the state government. “If the BJP thinks they will sell Jalpaiguri or Alipurduar or Cooch Behar or Darjeeling, it is not that easy. They are unable to control Delhi. What does it mean to have a union territory? Are they planning to muzzle the voice of people just like Kashmir or put people under house arrest and take away their basic rights?” she asked.
The three-times chief minister wondered aloud who is going to benefit from such a move. “Who is going to benefit by dividing Bengal? They (the BJP) lost the elections here but have no shame. If they have their evil eyes on us, then the people of Bengal will give a fitting reply to them. Both the parts of Bengal are dear to me; they are like two daughters.”
Making a strong case for North Bengal, Mamata Banerjee said, “Our government has worked a lot in North Bengal. Some people have only lies to cater to and want the territory to be in their direct control. We will not let the people of Bengal be slaves. We strongly condemn the demand of the BJP. I’m sure the central leaders are part of the scheme or else they cannot dare to think like this.”
The defensive BJP leaders now claim that it is a hoax and fake news. Manoj Tigga, BJP legislator from Madarihat in North Bengal said that he wasn’t aware of any demand of a separate state or territory by his party colleagues and is not aware of any letter to the central government.
Terming it as a “hoax”, West Bengal BJP general secretary Sayantan Basu said that BJP was never in favour of creating a separate Gorkhaland and also that the saffron camp will never indulge in “fragmentation of West Bengal”.
BJP’s Bengal vice-president Raju Banerjee rubbished the news as “fake”. Instead, he said, “This is not at all a BJP call but was intentionally floated by the Trinamool to malign the saffron camp in the state.”