Sidharth Rajee Nair is an economics student, studying at Symbiosis College of Arts and Commerce. With a penchant for reading, he relishes history, political science, and geography. He is Malayali, currently living in Dubai. Being a patriot, he aspires to serve and protect his Country. In conversation with Rutuja Patole, Intern at Goa Chronicle.com.
GoaChronicle.com: Why are the upcoming WB elections significant?
Sidharth: Well, West Bengal remains one of those elusive states that BJP just could not get a hold of. Although it had made significant inroads during the 2019 Lok Sabha Elections, it has not been able to dominate the political scene like it has in states of Uttar Pradesh and Gujarat.
For the TMC, it is going to be the battle for survival. With mass party defections at the grassroots level and even some at the State and Central legislative bodies, they are on faulty ground. Mamata Banerjee often spoke of that her party gave the most chances to their grass root workers, hence the name Trinamool Congress. However, whether this pays off this time is to be seen.
In context of national interest, there are quite a lot of issues that sprung up between the West Bengal Government and the Centre, thus leading to frosty relations between both. From issues like banning CBI investigations in the state to the political murders of BJP activists. The people of Bengal will weigh in such factors. Furthermore, since it being a border state there has been quite a lot of concerns of illegal migration of Bangladeshis to the state and how Mamata Banerjee has overlooked them due to vote bank politics. Adding to the issue is the Teesta river issue wherein the Mamata Government has said no to every single proposal put forward by the Central Government.
GoaChronicle.com: Do you see it as an ideological tussle or a governance battle?
Sidharth: It is a mix of the two, to be honest. When we talk about election in West Bengal, we must not forget parties like the CPIM who had been in power for the longest time in West Bengal for over three decades and the INC who were the first ones to rule the state after independence. Ironically CPIM and the congress have formed an alliance in West Bengal while in Kerala they are serving as government and opposition, respectively. To make the situation even more comical, both states have elections coming up later this year. The battle between CPIM, Congress and TMC is mostly a governance battle as all three have ruled previously and therefore the citizens have an idea about their policies and schemes. However, when we add BJP to the equation, it becomes an ideological battle.
GoaChronicle.com: Who is to be blamed for poor performance of WB in almost all Governance related issues?
Sidharth: Definitely the State government has had a huge role in misgoverning the state. West Bengal lags in economic growth which is in stark contrast to the other states around it. The more surprising thing however is the way the opposition in the state is practically mum about the issues the people are facing. The main objective of congress is to form a coalition just to unseat BJP. This objective is blind to principle, ideologies and so on. The result is a concocted mix of haphazard elements with no commonality except the sole aim of destroying their common enemy. This unholy alliance might be good for the short term, but it will eat its members from the inside. This can be clearly seen in the declining vote share of the congress and CPIM. Both of whom were grand parties before the emergence of BJP. TMC has so far shied away from such alliance due to Mamata’s own skepticism of the CPIM. However, that does not exonerate her for the mismanagement of West Bengal which is one of India’s most important states, militarily, economically and culturally.
Central welfare schemes are not being implemented in the state, depriving a large majority of the citizenry who find themselves on the back foot when compared to the people of other states. The main reason for this is Mamata’s petty and paranoid politics.
GoaChronicle.com: What’s your take on the changing demographics of the state? Is it a concern?
Sidharth: Yes, this is a major concern. Unchecked migration into West Bengal and Assam has been rapidly changing the demographics in a concerning manner.
However, this falls under power of the Central Government as they are responsible for keeping our border safe. The BSF has done remarkable work yet there is still an influx of Bangladeshi migrants through unpatrolled and unfenced border points. This is a grave security threat to both the state and the nation as once they are inside West Bengal it is easy to travel to other states as well. The Centre needs to improve on this regard by providing more funding to the BSF and establishing more Border check posts as well as increase patrolling.
GoaChronicle.com: As per popular opinion, WB is losing it’s Cultural ethnicity and it will slowly regain the same if the nationalist party, BJP comes into power. What is your stance on this?
Sidharth: I do not believe this is true. Bengali people are one of the most culturally proud people in India. Governments and ideologies come and go, but they stay resolute to their traditions. Durga Puja for example is statewide festival which garners people from all faiths. Being the home of stalwarts like Rabindranath Tagore, Aurobindo and Shubhas Chandra Bose, they are proud, fierce, and strong people. BJP should make sure that it does not intervene in cultural aspects in the lives of Bengalis.
GoaChronicle.com: Do you think WB has more issues to be addressed instead of whooping upon ‘Jai Shree Ram’ vs ‘Jai Bangla’ in the political rallies?
Sidharth: Definitely. Political parties must focus on developmental issues rather than whipping up patriotic fervor. Yes, Patriotism is important, it is one of the bedrocks of a stable and peaceful society. However, it is not a substitute for development and welfare for the people. Parties should avoid such sloganeering and discuss the actual problems being faced by people on the ground.
GoaChronicle.com: Many people have an opinion that the Mamata Banerjee’s government is nothing but the same communal ideology with a different garb. Do you agree? If yes, please elaborate.
Sidharth: There are always two sides to a coin. While Mamata Banerjee has done some developmental schemes for her people on the other hand she has broken the secular aspect of her rule by giving stipends to imams while at the same time banning the immersion of the Durga idol. Such unsecular acts only serve to tarnish the image of Bengal as harmonious co-existing society. Creating such division will only further the agenda of a certain group of people. If Mamata Banerjee does not want to lose the grip over her state she should not associate with such people.
GoaChronicle.com: Which party’s government should the people of Bengal vote for?
Sidharth: The people of Bengal should vote for that party they believe can elevate them to new heights. They should also vote for something new and unexplored. They have witnessed congress, communist and Trinamool rule. They have an idea of what all three of them entails.
I would recommend that the people try another alternative. An initiative they believe can turn their fortunes around. Most of all, they should vote not only for West Bengal but for India.