Rumour Spreading Society (RSS) And BJP Playing With Fire

Published: July 07, 2017 09:20 IST
The recent incident in North 24 Parganas district of Bengal is a case study on how a religious controversy is manufactured and promoted by the Rumour Spreading Society (RSS). Its affiliates join in for the political benefit of the BJP. The BJP has been trying to make inroads in Bengal. In 2014, it invested heavily in an expensive campaign in the state but came away with only two seats out of 42. Subsequently, it made a lot of noise before by-elections and then the 2016 assembly election. It got hammered in both. What it couldn't achieve through the front door, without popular support, it now seeks to do through a deep-rooted conspiracy. It wants to manufacture a communal conflagration and draw votes in blood. 

There is a template to this. In Gujarat, the BJP was set to lose the election in 2003. The pogrom of February 2002 was engineered by friendly forces, the election was brought forward. And we know the result. In Muzaffarnagar, in western Uttar Pradesh, religious violence was encouraged before the 2014 Lok Sabha election. It was sustained till the 2017 assembly election. And we know the result.

This appears to be the plan for Bengal. A teenaged student puts up an inflammatory post on Facebook that clearly hurts religious sentiments. Who instigates the student to put up that post? That is another mystery - or is it? People react to the social media post and the state administration calms nerves. It is a challenging situation but hardly a crisis. What do the BJP and the RSS do? They pour gallons of oil in an attempt to enlarge the fire.

The Governor of Bengal, a crafty Shakha veteran who has been plotting against the state government while residing in Raj Bhavan, jumps in. He uses unacceptable language against the elected Chief Minister. This man writes letters to the Chief Minister attaching memos on a BJP letterhead. Unbelievable. 

Let us not forget that this Governor is hardly above reproach. As Speaker of the Uttar Pradesh assembly in 1997, he helped the minority BJP government into a majority by facilitating defections from other parties including the BSP. At the end, the BJP had a dubious government with a record-breaking 92 ministers. Every defector was rewarded. This is the political culture our great Governor in Kolkata represents.

Let me go back to my original thread. After the Governor uses provocative language, others enter the fray. A failed politician from Bengal, now the governor of Tripura and still frustrated by his inability to defeat Mamata Banerjee, tweets irresponsibly. He is almost wishing for violence. A minister from Uttar Pradesh, who should be worried about the law and order situation in his state, also starts spreading provocative videos.

Sanghi journalists from Delhi get into the Twitter war. Assorted bhakts and the entire Sangh Parivar troll army - "Digital Yoddhas", as they have been called by the BJP top leadership - spew bile on the Internet. They paint a civil war scenario and describe a big riot that is all fictional. Out of virtually nothing, there are calls to dismiss the Trinamool Congress government and put Bengal under President's Rule.

So here's the method of madness:

Step 1: Get someone to put up a provocative (often morphed) picture on Facebook

Step 2: Amplify the rumour-mongering through digital media and word-of-mouth 

Step 3: Spread propaganda through mouthpieces masquerading as news channels and independent

Step 4: Get party politicians to jump in and validate the digital dirt as if it were really happening

I actually watched this unfold in a matter of hours. What have these people reduced India to? When it can't enter Bengal electorally or defeat Trinamool on social, economic or developmental parameters, the BJP goes back to its tried and tested dirty trick: polarisation.

We will not allow such nefarious plans to succeed. Under Mamata Banerjee's leadership, the Trinamool Congress will keep Bengal safe and secure. And secular.

Derek O'Brien is leader, parliamentary party Trinamool Congress (RS), and Chief National spokesperson of the party.

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