Is Trinamool Congress trying to fine-tune social boycott as a political tool? A day after CPI(M) MLA Anisur Rehman made sexist and abusive remarks about chief minister Mamata Banerjee, two senior ministers of her cabinet, Subrata Mukherjee and Firhad Hakim, jointly called for imposing a social boycott on Rehman.
Friday’s appeal from the two ministers, made right from the state secretariat, sounded similar to what food minister Jyotipriyo Mullick urged his party supporters to do earlier this year. Mullick had called upon Trinamool activists and supporters to boycott CPI(M) leaders and cadres at all social levels in day-to-day life.
“We want a complete social boycott of Anisur Rehman. We are urging everybody to boycott him,” Hakim said on Friday, as Subrata Mukherjee looked on approvingly. “In Bengal, we will not tolerate any act which hits the respect of a woman. We will fight for women’s honour at any cost,” Hakim said. However, an adamant Rehman told HT on Friday, “I have nothing to say. Let them say whatever they want.”
In April, addressing a meeting of party workers, Mullick, a key Trinamool leader in North 24-Parganas district, had asked party activists and supporters to impose a social boycott on CPI(M) leaders and cadres. Mullick asked them to walk away from tea stalls if they saw a CPI(M) member approaching them.
“I ask our party men not to chat with CPI(M) workers at tea stalls and markets and not to attend any ceremony if invited by them,” Mullick, the food and civil supplies minister, had said at that meeting held 100 km north of Kolkata. He had added, “If you see them (CPIM leaders) at weddings and other social functions, leave the place immediately. They deserve nothing but contempt.”
Later, when quizzed, Mullick reiterated that he had asked party workers not to interact with CPI(M) members as otherwise they would not be able to take on the Marxists politically. “I have even said it earlier and I still say that I hate the CPI(M),” Mullick went on record as saying.
When Mullick’s comments became public, he went on the defensive and since then no other Trinamool leader appealed for such a measure against their political adversaries.
On Friday, however, it became apparent that the party was trying to use social boycott as a political tool to ostracise controversial Left leader when the two prominent ministers of the Mamata Banerjee government appealed to the people to boycott Rehman. Their appeal was telecast live on television.