With Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee continuing to maintain silence on the “surgical strikes” carried out by the Army at the LoC, the BJP has alleged that it was indicative of the Trinamool Congress’ “policy of minority appeasement” and anti-nationalism. The leaders of the ruling party in West Bengal, however, termed the party chief’s silence as “strategic restraint”.
BJP state president Dilip Ghosh pointed out that while all parties, including the Congress, congratulated Prime Minister Narendra Modi and the Indian Army, Mamata has remained quiet. “It shows that the she is not happy over the strategic strikes on Pakistan terror camps. The CM will have to break her silence and clear the state’s stand on the issue,” Ghosh said.
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A senior TMC leader close to the CM, however, explained that “Mamata’s silence” is indicative of the stand that she has taken. “In a situation such as this, where the details of the strike are still unknown, it is impossible to comment without making certain assumptions. Bengal doesn’t share a border with Pakistan and her focus right now is on the state. When the time is right and if there is a need, she’ll comment on the issue,” the leader said, requesting not to be named.
Another senior TMC leader pointed to Mamata’s concern over Muharram and Durga Puja coinciding in the coming week and said that she had restrained herself from making any statement that could “be twisted to charge the atmosphere communally”. In her last Cabinet meeting before the festive week, Mamata had strictly instructed all ministers and MLAs to stay at “their home constituencies” and work closely with the police in case of any “untoward incident”. She had gone on to make a statement to the public, urging them to maintain peace.
“It’s not a question of whether or not Mamata is against the Indian army. That is not even the question. Two men from our state lost their lives in the Uri attack. We have bled for the nation. But if she makes a statement, there are certain elements who’ll try and make the issue a communal one and try and spread hatred. By remaining silent, she has side-stepped the entire issue while not compromising on her criticism of the Modi government’s destruction of federalism,” the leader said.
Meanwhile, a third school of thought exists in the TMC, which points out that any comment on the surgical strikes —- either congratulating the government or opposing them —- would serve to weaken Mamata’s ongoing criticism of the Centre’s treatment of state governments. “While not saying anything, Mamata has avoided the pitfall of having to dilute her own opposition of the government’s policies regarding the state. Ministers and MLAs are continuing their political opposition of the Centre’s policy at different avenues,” said a senior Cabinet minister of the party.
The “strategy”, however, hasn’t done much to placate the BJP. “The way Bengal has become a safe haven for terrorists, it shows how weak the state government is when it comes to taking steps against these terror outfits,” Ghosh said.
The BJP has also decided to launch a ‘Save Democracy Movement’ from November 30 to December 14 against Trinamool Congress’ alleged attempt to make the state “Opposition-free” by using “unfair, undemocratic and unconstitutional strategies”, Ghosh added.