Infiltration mobilises Hindu votes in border areas

  • Snigdhendu Bhattacharya, Hindustan Times, Delhi
  • Updated: Jun 25, 2014 15:54 IST

“It’s now time to identify Muslim infiltrators and send them back” will be the BJP war cry for the 2016 Bengal assembly polls — besides, of course, the development issue.

The party is set to hit the streets of Bengal to drive out Muslim infiltrators and provide refugee status to the Hindus who came in from Bangladesh — an issue that ignited a spat between Prime Minister Narendra Modi and TMC chief Mamata Banerjee during the Lok Sabha poll campaign.

During his poll campaign in Asansol, Modi attacked Banerjee, alleging that she was protecting Bangladeshi infiltrators. Banerjee hit back, threatening severe consequences if a single person was touched in Bengal.

Since then, Modi has stepped up his attack on infiltration, with Banerjee accusing the BJP leader of trying to “disturb communal harmony” in the state.

West Bengal shares a 2,216.7-km long, largely porous border with Bangladesh, with North Dinajpur, Murshidabad, North 24-Parganas and South 24-Parganas and the Alipurduar sub-division in Jalpaiguri district having most of the infiltration points.

Samik Bhattacharya, a general secretary of the state BJP who contested from Basirhat Lok Sabha constituency in North 24-Parganas — where infiltration is a major issue — threatened that the movement was no longer at the level of protests and demands. “We are no longer an opposition party.”

He said, “We will wait for a few months to let the government at the Centre settle down before beginning the offensive.” He made it clear that the decision to wait did not mean that the party would sit idle. “We’ll raise the issue at each and every programme, press conference and rally.”

The RSS, however, is not contemplating a direct role. A senior RSS leader told HT: “It’s the BJP’s issue. The BJP is in the government now. They will do whatever is required.” But the Sangh will continue building public opinion on this issue.

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