‘Both Left and Congress have turned to BJP, it is now majority versus minority.’
New Delhi: In Lok Sabha elections 2019, nothing has given more satisfaction to BJP than the stunning victory on 18 seats in West Bengal. Of these 18, one of the seats that attracted much attention was Barrackpore, from where BJP’s Arjun Singh defeated TMC’s sitting MP Dinesh Trivedi. Singh, who migrated to BJP from TMC, in an interview to this newspaper gave an insight into the churning within Bengal that helped BJP take on Mamata Banerjee. Singh is facing more than 30 criminal cases and is known for his muscle power. Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee heavily depended on him in the area to win elections since the inception of TMC. Singh, who once swore by Mamata, now says “BJP has helped Bengali Hindus to become Hindu again”. Excerpts:
Q: What’s your take on BJP’s victory in Bengal?
A: See, the BJP won in Bengal because of Mamata Banerjee’s politics of appeasement. She prefers a particular class of people. She has made the majority angry. If, let me give you an example, someone is wearing a cap while riding a motorcycle but is not caught by the police, while you wear a helmet but get fined… So this is directly hitting the people. This is a very dangerous thing. And being secular is by no means a wrong thing. But the meaning of “being secular” does not refer to making Muslims happy and troubling Hindus. That is not secularism, that is favouritism. TMC sent the signal that they were favouring them. We were told that we (TMC) were expanding our vote bank. Mamata Banerjee has dug her own grave.
Q: But I am surprised to hear this from you since you have been with the TMC for such a long time.
A: When I was in TMC we were opposing it. We told her (Mamata Banerjee) “Aap hijab pahenkar namaz padhne ja rahi hai, usse Hindu vote khilaaf ja raha hai (When she was going for namaaz, wearing a hijab we told her that Hindus were moving away from TMC). When we told her these thing she would get upset with us.”
Q: But how you can speak such things? You have grown up listening to Rabindra Sangeet.
A: Rabindranath Tagore hasn’t said anywhere that being Hindu we must not pray and being Muslim we must not perform namaaz. You may read the namaaz, but when we chant “Jai Sri Ram”, Mamata Banerjee takes offence. Why does she get offended? Do Muslims get offended? They don’t! When Muslims chant “Allahu Akbar”, I am not offended at all. Then why is she feeling so offended when I’m saying “Jai Sri Ram”?
Q: She has claimed that she doesn’t have a problem with “Jai Sri Ram”. She has said that she is aware of the intricacies of Hindu dharma and she chants Sanskrit shlokas as well.
A: You don’t know anything, I have a video clip where she gets down from her car (after hearing Jai Sri Ram) and says, “Tomra aamar khachcho aar aamar biruddhe kotha bolchcho (You are surviving because of me and you are talking against me)? This has happened in my constituency.
Q: But for so many years you have been in the TMC, you have been MLA, you have been so powerful. At that point weren’t you aware of her and her politics?
A: I was never at the mercy of Mamata Banerjee. The seat from which I would become MLA (Bhatpara), has been in my family for generations. Till date, Mamata Banerjee has not gone to my constituency and given an election speech.
Q: But your victory margin (16,000 votes) is not impressive.
A: Listen, when you contest against Mamata Banerjee things are different. In Barrackpore, Dinesh Trivedi wasn’t contesting. Mamata Banerjee was, virtually, contesting it. There were 9 IPS and 7 IAS officers who were toiling to make me lose. A thousand workers of mine were arrested one day before the elections. Can you imagine what kind of election you are contesting? Do you even have a bit of idea of what is the state of Bengal?
Q: What is the real position of the Left, Congress and TMC?
A: See, both Left and Congress workers have turned to the BJP. The battle in Bengal is now majority versus minority.
Q: Why do you constantly say that you people from the outside are not able to understand what is the situation inside Bengal? What is it that we don’t understand?
A: In Bengal people cannot breathe on their own (because of Mamata).
Q: Can you give me examples?
A: Like, not letting Saraswati puja happen in a school. Why? Because Muslims say that the puja will not happen in schools. Recently, the Durga Puja visarjan date was changed. Today, if you’re walking on the road, and a Muslim man beats you, there will not be any case against him. If your land has been occupied by a Muslim man, nobody will quiz him, your land is just gone. So that’s why I am saying, you are outsiders, you don’t know of the reality in Bengal. On the day of the election, there is police at the gates who say “vote as we say else we will seize your house”. You may ask how the TMC came to power. When in 2011 TMC came to power, paramilitary was deployed with full power, and the booths, inside and outside, were in their control. That’s how and why TMC came to power. If in this election military men were present everywhere on voting day, it would not have been 18, it would have been 29 seats for BJP.
Q: How did BJP bring about the political change in Bengal?
A: See, in the last 34 years, CPM has tried to convert Bengali Hindus into Islam. And in Mamata Banerjee’s rule when Hindu areas were developed, Hindus started demonstrations. There was tremendous pressure on Hindus. They lived under fear. BJP helped Hindus to come out of the suppression and Hindus started speaking out. This is what the BJP has done in Bengal. They awakened Hindu sentiments. They helped Bengali Hindus to become “Hindus” again.
Q: In 2002, when the riots took place in Gujarat, people said that Gujarat was a standalone case. They said then that India was not Gujarat.
A: People like you must be saying that. People like you, who consider themselves “intellectual”, who claim that they see and understand everything.
Q: So do you feel that Bengal is Gujarat today?
A: If Bengal becomes Gujarat, it will go very far ahead. When Gujarat is developed, it doesn’t look like India. It feels like as if we are in a place outside of India. And if you go to Bengal, then see how poor it is. People wanted Kolkata to be like London. Kolkata could not become London. It is now not even Kolkata. Kolkata’s downfall is steep.
Q: How far has Narendra Modi’s public image penetrated the rural parts of Bengal?
A: Modiji, in India and in Bengal is considered as a “nationalist” leader. If you want to ensure that the nation doesn’t become a slave once again, that the nation continues to prosper, then it will have to be with Modiji. This image of “Rashtravadi Modi” has spread all over the country and in Bengal as well. The BJP has benefited greatly from his image.
Q: What will happen in the next Assembly elections?
A: In the current situation it’s out of the question that BJP will lose the ground it has gained so far. It can only increase.
There is no scope for a decrease at all. As of today we are 200+ Assembly seats. If the election takes place tomorrow we will win 200+. BJP will win West Bengal.