Kolkata: United India Zindabad, United Bengal Zindabad, Amra Kara (Who are we?) – Nagorik (Citizen), Labours, Youths, Students – are citizens. We all are citizens, People of Bihar are citizen, People of Dilli, Kerala, UP, Assam, we all are citizens.
Nahi Chalega Nahi Chalega, CAB Nahi Chalega, NRC Nahi Chalega, CAB Wapas Lo, CAB Wapas Lo, NRC Wapas Lo, Jo Humse Takrayega Chur Chur Ho Jayega.
All the above slogans are not of any activist but that of West Bengal Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee. Mamata Banerjee has been actively using these slogans at her rallies to mark her anti-Citizen Amendments Act (CAA) and National Register of Citizens (NRC) stand.
Trinamool Congress supremo sloganeering highlights that everyone is a citizen of India, be it Hindu, Muslim, businessman or shopkeeper, Bihari or Bengali.
The TMC chief has been leading rallies and addressing public meetings since CAB was given a go-ahead by both the houses of the Indian Parliament and the President of India.
Friday, on the fifth consecutive day of her public meet, not only made a sharp attack on the Modi-led Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) government but also questioned Narendra Modi not voting for CAB.
With everyday rallies and sabhas, which are witnessing a large number of public participation, Kolkata is once again abuzz with the energy it has been missing of late. Change in political dynamics is significant. Gone is the politician, who a decade ago would excuse herself from speaking Hindi, as she was comfortable in Bangla. But surprisingly in all her five public meetings, Mamata spoke in Hindi. And significantly, her 30-minute long speech at the Park Circus ground was completely in Hindi.
Return of activist Mamata
Many who have seen the Trinamool Congress supremo during her Singur and Nandigram days may feel her present aggression is similar to the Singur movement, which she had judiciously used to dethrone the 3-decade old Left regime in Bengal.
Her fasting at Metro, long fiery speeches that spoke of the rights of the farmers, the support she garnered from the intellects of Bengal helped her build the movement which made the Tata exit Bengal.
NRC and CAA seem to have given Mamata the issue that can help her win public support, and thus, after every meet, her speeches are getting louder, stronger, and aggressive. The smart usage of Hindi to woo the Hindi-speaking voters might also help.
Social media which plays an important role in giving a message, Bengal chief minister had replaced her profile picture with #Citizen and United India message.
And in all her five rallies, Mamata has raised important questions pertaining to BJP, Prime Minister Narendra Modi and Home Minister Amit Shah on CAA and NRC issue. She vehemently criticized BJP over the citizenship issue and sarcastically said, that the government wants to give citizenship to people who have fought for Independence.
Bengal Chief Minister questioned PM Modi for abstaining from voting on CAB. She even appealed to the UN to gauge the public opinion of India on NRC and CAA.
Why Mamata should be thankful to the civil society?
However, the crowd and the support that Mamata Banerjee is witnessing in Bengal, would not have been possible if myriad civil societies had not acknowledged the impending danger of NRC, NPR, and CAA to the common man.
It was the social activists and civil societies of Bengal that laid the foundation of the ‘No NRC No CAA no NPR’ Movement in Bengal. The journey began when the final NRC list of Assam was made public. Handful activists under the banner of Joint Forum Against NRC along with students from Jadavpur University assembled outside Assam Bhavan to submit a letter to the CM of Assam demanding the inclusion of all those excluded from the final NRC list. The forum, an umbrella organization of several civil groups, even wrote to the West Bengal Chief Minister seeking her pass a resolution in the Assembly, which she did on September 6, 2019.
The forum, led by Prasenjit Bose, Deborshi Chakraborty, Imtiaz Ahmed Molla, Manzer Jameel, played a key role in mobilizing the common man, through their Pahad Theke Sagar Campaign, which concluded on December 9 with a mega rally which was attended by Gopinath Kannan, former IAS officer, CPIML’s Kavita Krishnan and student leader Kanhaiya Kumar.
Another NGO, which has been actively working for mass mobilization and awareness creation in rural Bengal (Birbhum, Murshidabad, Malda) is Bangla Sanskriti Mancha, led by Tanmay Ghosh and Samirul Islam.
The awareness generated about the problems that could arise due to the implementation of the unconstitutional NRC and CAA is making a huge number of people come out to participate in all kind of political and apolitical rallies being organized in Kolkata and across Bengal.
Bengal would be among the only state in India, where almost all the citizens have hit the streets some or other day in against of NRC, be it students, intellectuals, politicians or local residents.
However, senior journalist Biswajit Roy says, “The problem with Bengal politics is that every ruling party, be it now TMC or earlier the Left, they never want to give space to the civil society nor the opposition. So whatever movement you are witnessing in Bengal, for this civil society has to put a lot of effort.”
“The movement is a lesson for ruling dispensation to give space to opposition and the civil society on certain issues like the NRC and CAA, then only it helps the cause to catch the imagination of common man,” added Roy.