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'Not All Bad': Mamata Banerjee’s Praise For RSS Raises Storm In West Bengal, Here's Who Said What

'Not All Bad': Mamata Banerjee’s Praise For RSS Raises Storm In West Bengal, Here's Who Said What

TMC supremo Mamata Banerjee raked up a political storm in West Bengal by lauding the Rashtriya Swayamsevak Sangh, the ideological backbone of the Bharatiya Janta Party (BJP), TMC's key rival in West Bengal.

CM Mamata Banerjee hiked the financial assistance for the states Durga puja-organising club
West Bengal Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee.(File photo)

Mamata Banerjee’s comments on RSS have kicked up political storm in West Bengal with the TMC being called out from all sides for the passing comment.

The TMC chief Banerjee’s assertions that all RSS was “not bad” and there are many who “do not support BJP” have led to a controversy in the state with Opposition parties including AIMIM, Congress, and CPM attacking her for what they saw as political opportunism and Banerjee's attempts at cosying up to the ruling party in the Centre.

What did TMC chief Mamata Banerjee said about RSS?

In a passing remark at a state secretariat function in West Bengal, the chief minister had on Wednesday said, "RSS was not that bad. There are still people in the RSS who do not support the politics BJP does".

The RSS, whose relations with TMC supremo Mamata Banerjee was the topic for political speculation, chose to ignore the praise and urged her to stop the cycle of political violence in the state.

How Opposition parties reacted to Mamata's RSS comment

Banerjee's comment is getting brickbats from across the political spectrum with even the RSS snubbing the back-handed compliment. While the AIMIM, Congress and CPM on Thursday attacked her for what they saw as opportunism on Banerjee’s part, the BJP said it did not need certificates from her. 

The RSS, instead of commenting the apparent praise, pointed to Bengal’s record of political violence and asked for corrective measures. 

The sharpest attack came from the Hyderabad-based All India Majlis-e-Ittehadul Muslimeen (AIMIM) chief Asaduddin Owaisi, who on Thursday said that “in 2003 too, she had called RSS ‘patriots’, (and) in turn Rashtriya Swayamsewak Sangh had called her Durga”.

Owaisi, whose party failed to win a single seat including Muslim majority constituencies in Bengal in the last assembly elections where it positioned itself as opposed to both TMC and BJP, said sarcastically “hope TMC’s ‘Muslim faces’ praise her for her honesty and consistency”.

The TMC, however, tried to make light of Owaisi's remark and said the party doesn't need to prove its secular credentials to him.

"We don't need to prove anything to Owaisi. Mamata Banerjee has tried to say that every organisation has good and bad people. We don't need to prove our secular credentials to anyone after we defeated the BJP-RSS juggernaut in the last assembly polls," TMC MP Sougata Roy said.

However, besides AIMIM, a host of bigger parties joined the fray in taking on Mamata’s `praise’ for the RSS.

Congress leader Adhir Ranjan Chowdhury on Thursday said: "This is not for the first time that she (Mamata Banerjee) has praised the RSS.” 

He repeated Owaisi’s instance from 2003, when “she had participated in a book release programme of the RSS. She had sought their support to topple the Left Front government (then).”

Chowdhury claimed Banerjee had even before that expressed her gratitude to the Nagpur-based RSS, which is considered the ideological parent of the BJP. 

“Sometimes she cajoles Hindu fundamentalists and sometimes the Muslims to get electoral dividends. Mamata Banerjee has been exposed again," the Congress leader said.  

The Communists were not far behind in pillorying Banerjee. CPI(M) central committee member Sujan Chakraborty claimed that her comments vindicate the Left party's stand that she is a "product" of the RSS. 

"It is once again clear that TMC is not trustworthy in the fight against BJP," the CPI(M) leader claimed.  

RSS snubs Mamata Banerjee’s 'compliment'

The RSS, whose relations with TMC supremo Mamata Banerjee have long been the topic for political speculation, chose to ignore the praise and urged her to stop the cycle of political violence in the state.

"She (Banerjee) has said there are some good people in RSS. We would like to tell her that there can be political differences, but does that mean (political activists should involve themselves in) killing opponents,” RSS state general secretary Jishnu Basu said. 

Basu claimed around 60 people have been killed in the state in post-poll violence.

“She should have ensured law and order is in place. She is the chief minister of those who voted for her and those who voted against her,” he pointed out.

BJP national vice-president Dilip Ghosh said neither the RSS nor the BJP need a certificate from Banerjee. 

"We don't need a certificate from Mamata Banerjee on who is good and who is bad. It is for the people to decide. We are not answerable to her," Ghosh said.

RSS in West Bengal

The RSS from the very beginning has tried to extend its influence in West Bengal, with the saffron party staring at the cusp of the power in the state in 2020. The two men who have been behind the growing influence of RSS in West Bengal have been Joydeb Ghosh and Kalidas Basu.

The right-wing organisation has grown its number of shakhas in the state from very few to over 1000, as per several reports. Right from 1953 to 2022, the organisation has only grown in the state.

Mamata Banerjee’s association with BJP

Banerjee had allied herself with the BJP-led NDA during late Atal Behari Vajpayee's term at Prime Minister, before distancing herself from the NDA but had a tempestuous relationship with the alliance, often attacking it over disinvestment and other issues.

(With PTI inputs)
 

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