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Trinamool-BJP tug of war splits Bengal-based Hindutva outfit Hindu Samhati

BJP and the Left had earlier branded Hindu Samhati as the ‘Trinamool’s Hindutva wing’.

kolkata Updated: Aug 12, 2018 22:43 IST
Snigdhendu Bhattacharya
Snigdhendu Bhattacharya
Hindustan Times, Kolkata
Trinamool Congress,BJP,Hindu Samhati
Opposition parties have accused Hindu Samhati workers of being involved in communal riots in West Bengal.(PTI/File photo)

Controversial Hindutva leader Tapan Ghosh, who recently quit the far-right Hindu Samhati that he himself founded 10 years ago, has called for disbanding the group, arguing that the present leadership had fallen into the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP)’s “trap”.

Hindu Samhati has grown rapidly in various parts of Bengal since its foundation in 2008, a year after Ghosh, a Rashtriya Swayamsevak Sangh (RSS) pracharak since 1975, quit the organisation, accusing it of “lacking courage”.

Hindu Samhati recently became a key entity in Bengal’s communally volatile political scene, saying openly that it did not believe the BJP was going to do Bengal’s Hindus any good.

“I have urged Hindu Samhati workers to disband it. We did not want to get involved in politics because politics tends to divide Hindus on socio-economic lines. Hindus need an organisation that will represent all Hindus — the rich and the poor, the Dalit and the Brahmin,” Ghosh said.

In July, Ghosh, 65, announced that he was quitting Hindu Samhati, saying that he wanted the younger generation to lead it. “I reversed the stand. The organisation should cease to exist. The present leadership has fallen into BJP’s trap,” Ghosh said.

The BJP is seeking to make inroads into West Bengal ahead of next year’s general election. On Saturday, BJP president Amit Shah lashed out at West Bengal chief minister Mamata Banerjee, accusing her of sheltering Bangladeshi infiltrators. He criticised her for opposing the National Registrar of Citizens, updated in Assam recently as part of an effort to identify and deport illegal immigrants.

Incidentally, following Ghosh’s announcement that he was quitting Hindu Samhati, Debtanu Bhattacharya, who stepped into his post at the helm, said Ghosh’s name will continue to be the organisation’s USP (unique selling proposition).

Refuting Ghosh’s allegation, Bhattacharya said, “We have no idea why Ghosh is making this allegation. We will remain apolitical. In reality, we are trying to rid our organisation of inclination towards Trinamool Congress. We’ll maintain equidistance from all.”

Notably, Ghosh has criticised Mamata Banerjee for Muslim appeasement, but also given her ‘7 out of 10’ for development. He argued that Hindus gained most from Banerjee’s development programmes.

“Anyone who has visited Gangasagar before she came to power and during the past couple of years can see the sea changes she has brought in. Pilgrimage infrastructure got a total revamp. What she has done for the Hindus cannot be ignored,” Ghosh said.

Hindu Samhati was accused of playing a role in several of the communal riots that took place in Bengal over the past couple of years. The BJP and the Left had branded Hindu Samhati ‘Trinamool’s Hindutva wing’ but Bengal’s ruling party always denied any connection with the organisation.

Political observers say the split in Hindu Samhati will fuel communal propaganda in the state. “The competitive communalism between RSS and Hindu Samhati had already become a danger to the state’s secular fabric. Now there will be competition between the two factions of Hindu Samhati, which will intensify communal propaganda in the state,” said Ranjit Sur, vice-president of the Association for Protection of Human Rights (APDR), Bengal’s largest rights group.

Because of Ghosh’s track record of fierce anti-Muslim rhetoric, his presence at an event held in the House of Commons of the British parliament on October 2017 had raised a storm in the United Kingdom. Tory MP Bob Blackman faced the wrath of a large number of British politicians for hosting Ghosh in the Parliament building.

Recently, the difference between Ghosh and the present leadership of the Hindu Samhati widened over their stand on the National Register of Citizens (NRC) in Assam. While Ghosh strongly criticised the BJP-led governments at the Centre and in Assam for excluding Hindus from the list, Hindu Samhati president Bhattacharya said BJP should not be criticised on the NRC issue.

“BJP can be criticised for its economic agenda. But it will be against national interest to criticise BJP on NRC,” Bhattacharya said.

First Published: Aug 12, 2018 22:43 IST