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Malda violence: BJP and CPI-M delegation team stopped while entering in Kaliachak

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Kolkata/New Delhi: Delegations of opposition parties BJP and CPI-M were on Monday prevented from proceeding to violence-hit Kaliachak in Malda district by the administration, triggering a war of words between political opponents in West Bengal.

Eight days after the violence during which a police station was attacked and BSF vehicles torched, the state’s ruling Trinamool Congress accused the BJP and the RSS of trying to turn a “criminal issue” into a “communal” one in view of the upcoming assembly polls.

The BJP called the January 3 violence a “planned action” and flayed the administration for stopping its parliamentarians.

The Communist Party of India-Marxist alleged that the state administration was not allowing opposition parties to proceed to Kaliachak as it had “something to hide”.

The three BJP MPs — BhupendraYadav, Ram Vilas Vedanti and SS Ahluwalia — sent by the party on a ‘fact finding mission’ were detained on Monday morning soon after they alighted from the Gaur Express at Malda station, 30 km from Kaliachak.

Ahluwalia, the sole Bharatiya Janata Party LokSabha member from Bengal, told reporters that the team’s only purpose was to ascertain the truth and restore the confidence of the people.

“We told the Malda district administration that we have come to ascertain the truth, we have not come to instigate or incite anyone. We wanted to restore the confidence of the people.”

Police told the MPs that prohibitory orders under Section 144 of the Code of Criminal Procedure had been clamped at Kaliachak, as added by Ahluwalia.

“They (police) told us that our presence will lead to problems, and the situation would deteriorate.”

The MPs spent three hours at the station before they were “forced to board” the Shatabdi Express.

Yadav termed the act “condemnable”.

Hours later, a CPI-M delegation headed by LokSabha member Mohammad Salim was also stopped.

Salim, also a Communist Party of India-Marxist politburo member, said that despite having given prior intimation to the district administration about their visit, they were stopped by a large posse of policemen at Amriti, about 35 km from Kaliachak.

“They said our visit could trigger law and order problems. Though I told them that my aim was to ascertain the facts by talking to the people, they refused to budge,” said Salim.

“I wonder if the administration has something to hide. And so it is stopping all opposition parties from going to the troubled spot.”

Trinamool chief national spokesperson Derek O’Brien accused the BJP parliamentary team of trying to go to Kaliachak to fuel “communal tension”.

“This was a ‘criminal issue’ but the BJP/RSS, as is their strategy, tried to turn it into a ‘communal issue’.”

O’Brien said the situation at Kaliachak was “tense”, but never “got out of hand” and praised the police for handling the issue “tactfully”.

“Thankfully, no deaths occurred, no injuries and 10 people have been arrested.”

The Trinamool Rajya Sabha member alleged that the “BJP/RSS were trying for the last one week to present, what I call, CIN 100: Communally Insensitive Narrative, 100 days before the state goes to polls.”

In Delhi, BJP national secretary Sidharth Nath Singh said party leaders will meet union Home Minister Rajnath Singh and seek an investigation by an appropriate agency into the violence.

“An incident happens on December 1 and the reaction happens on January 3… it took more than 30 days. If there was a communal reaction, it had to be spontaneous. Therefore, it was not a communal reaction, but a planned action.”

The BJP leader said Malda had become a hub for drug trade as authorities overlooked opium cultivation, asking why the West Bengal chief minister did not make efforts to stop such cultivation.

According to reports, protesting against remarks allegedly made to “hurt religious sentiments” in Uttar Pradesh, a large number of people on January 3 went on a rampage in Kaliachak, torching vehicles including those belonging to the Border Security Force (BSF) and also attacked the police station.(IANS) (Picture Courtesy:theweek.in)

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Why JDU & BJP Coalition Will Remain Intact

JDU knows that this 15-16% votes is not enough to help the party and for the BJP too, only the 17% votes of upper castes are not sufficient

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Nitish Kumar with Narendra Modi.
Nitish Kumar with Narendra Modi.

By Sagarneel Sinha

There have been lots of discussions among the political circles that JDU led by Bihar Chief
Minister Nitish Kumar is upset with the BJP and trying to send signals to erst allies — RJD and the Congress. This led to speculations that Nitish may once again join the Grand Alliance (GA) leaving the NDA camp. Already, RJD’s new commander Tejasvi Yadav has clearly stated that Nitish led JDU will not be welcomed in the GA. Despite all the odds, if (suppose) GA partners accommodate Nitish, he wouldn’t be the driving force of the alliance as in 2015. Also, Nitish cannot afford to go alone like in 2014 when his party fetched only 2 seats!

Then which is the correct way for JDU? It is to go with the BJP in the upcoming 2019 polls.
JDU’s advantage in this case is the present situation of the BJP. Currently, the saffron party is not in a strong position as the party would be facing anti-incumbency from a strong RJD led alliance in the state. BJP’s traditional voters are the upper castes who account for 17% of the electorate. This votebank is not enough for the party to help to win elections. The main opposition party — RJD still commands over a larger votebank than BJP. RJD is still a dominant force among the Yadavs and the Muslims who account for 31% of the population. It means BJP has to minus the 31% votes and rely on the rest — 69%. Out of these, 16% are the Mahadalits — a large portion of whom generally hail Nitish Kumar as their leader. Also, there are Kurmis, an OBC group consisting of 4% votes — considered as the supporters of JDU. Nitish Kumar himself is also a Kurmi.

Nitish Kumar Invited to Join NDA by Amit Shah After JDU-BJP Tie-up in Bihar
Nitish Kumar Invited to Join NDA by Amit Shah After JDU-BJP Tie-up in Bihar.

JDU knows that this 15-16% votes is not enough to help the party and for the BJP too, only the 17% votes of upper castes are not sufficient. However, if these votebanks are joined together they form around 31-32%. Plus, to gain the extra votes, both the parties have the option to rely on the personal charisma of Nitish Kumar and Prime Minister Narendra Modi. However, there is a power tussle between the two allies to get a respectable share of seats.

This power tussle is because of a strong BJP which earlier used to be a junior ally. The 2014 Lok Sabha elections changed the political scenario of the state where BJP emerged as the largest party in terms of vote share and seats. JDU knows the reality of a new emerging BJP, though it is pushing hard to gain a respectable share of seats for the Lok Sabha elections. Instead, Nitish Kumar has another option — giving the bigger chunk to the BJP for the Lok Sabha elections and the latter playing the junior partner for the 2020 assembly elections if held timely. Given the current situation in the country, in a crucial state like Bihar, BJP can hardly reject JDU as the later still commands over 15-16% votes — a very crucial votebank for winning maximum seats in the 2019 polls. Importance of JDU can also be explained by BJP president Amit Shah’s visit to Patna to have breakfast and dinner with Nitish Kumar. Though in politics there are no permanent friends or foes, so any perfect prediction is impossible. But given the current situation, JDU and BJP parting their ways seems unlikely as both the parties are in need of each other as already highlighted by Amit Shah that the two allies would fight the Lok Sabha elections together. Smiling face of Nitish Kumar was also an indication that the meetings with Amit Shah were fine.