Once one of Mamata Banerjee’s closest aides, then one of her fiercest critics, Nazrul Islam is set to join a rebel from the CPM ranks Monday.
The IPS official-cum-author, who retired as an additional DG Friday, will join hands with former CPM minister Abdul Rezzak Mollah, who has launched a party to fight for the rights of Muslims and SCs/STs in West Bengal. Mollah is a veteran politician who has taken on former chief minister Buddhadeb Bhattacharjee.
Mamata had handpicked Islam in the years leading to paribartan. As rail minister in 2009, she inducted him in the Railway Protection Force. They drifted apart during Mamata’s tenure as rail minister itself, with Islam alleging corruption in the ministry. Since Mamata came to power, he has frequently been criticising her government and written books about “exploitation of Muslims and using them as vote bank”, one of which has been banned and seized. The government filed a chargesheet against him for violating service rules and he too moved a counter-case. Even last year, he wrote to the CBI about alleged corruption in the rail ministry.
Islam and Mollah have been consulting each other for some time, aides say. It is the former’s government obligations that are believed to have prevented him taking up politically the issues close to both men’s hearts.
Islam has a history of highlighting issues relating to the deprivation of Muslims, SCs and STs in Bengal, including during his challenges to Mamata. He has brought out several publications about Muslims and SCs/STs being denied government jobs , important posts, or ministerial berths in proportion with their population. These are the very plank Mollah is campaigning on; he alleges an upper-caste domination in the communist party’s hierarchy.
The day after he retired, Islam told The Indian Express the time has come to take these issues forward along with Mollah. “I have been working for minorities and SCs/STs through my organisation, Adivasi Mulbasi Sanghatan, for a long time,” he said. “And I have seen that Mollah too has been working for these neglected groups. So, there is scope for us working together.”
Islam and leaders of his organisation will meet Mollah March 4 after Mollah returns to Kolkata from Delhi. They are expected to announce a common platform March 10. during the launch of a book, Udar Akash, a collection of essays written by intellectuals on the minorities living in Bengal.
Islam himself is releasing three books relating to such issues in a couple of days. They are called Mulniwasi Istehar, Bhaontadir Bhanr Samuha (Buffoons of a Bluff Master), and Ulangini Rani (The Nude Queen). “These books deal with minorities and SCs/STs and the promises made to them by the government,” said Islam. Ulangini Rani is a collection of poems and Buffoons is a satirical novel, which many believe is directed at Mamata.
At one point, Mamata used to praise the IPS officer’s uprightness. Now, he not only attacks her for unfulfilled promises to Muslims but also ridicules her for her frequent utterances of “Inshallah” and “Khuda hafeez”, and for offering namaz.