Fake pictures, communal rhetoric: How BJP is trying to cash in on Basirhat riots

New Delhi: The BJP and the RSS appear to be trying to cash in on the recent communal violence in West Bengal’s Basirhat, in which one person was killed.

The BJP has launched an intense movement seeking dismissal of the Mamata Banerjee-led Trinamool Congress government in the state. It has even gone to the extent of accusing the TMC of conniving with Bangladeshi militant outfits to carry out the riots.

On Saturday, a central BJP team led by MP Meenakshi Lekhi tried to visit the riot affected areas but was detained by police. Meanwhile Bengal BJP president Dilip Ghosh led a massive rally in Kolkata demanding imposition of President’s Rule in the state.

In its memorandum to Governor KN Tripathi, the party claimed that communal clashes have become the order of the day across the state particularly in border areas.

“We have information that the phenomenon in Basirhat is a handiwork of the Jamaat-HuJI-Trinamool combine,” the party said in its memorandum.

However, these aren’t the only methods the BJP is using to gain political mileage out of the riots.

A Haryana leader from the party Vijeta Malik was caught using a fake picture on social media to incite hatred. She used a still of a woman being molested from a Bhojpuri movie, interestingly starring the present Delhi BJP president Manoj Tiwari, and presented it as example of the sorry plight of Hindu women in West Bengal.

The Kolkata Police has registered a case against the person who first used the image.

BJP IT Cell head Amit Malviya posted an image saying “5 killed, over 8 injured in Nadia” but the image was of violence that took place in 2015.

The BJP’s aim seems to be clear – to polarise Hindus by pushing a narrative that the community is in danger, while portraying the Mamata Banerjee government as being pro-Jihadi.

Confusion regarding President’s Rule

There seems to be some confusion regarding the party’s demand for President’s Rule in West Bengal. BJP in-charge for the state Kailash Vijayvargiya had initially demanded imposition of President’s Rule in the state but the party appeared to backtrack on it a few days later.

BJP state president Dilip Ghosh clarified that the party will continue to push for it until the Mamata Banerjee government is dismissed.

Obviously, the Lekhi-led fact finding team is expected to indict the TMC government in its report to BJP president Amit Shah.

Enraged over being detained by the police, the BJP MPs had a heated argument with the cops. Senior BJP leader Om Mathur even threatened to move a privilege motion in Parliament against a police officer.

Parallely the BJP organised protests in North 24 Parganas and other border districts projecting TMC as being hand-in-glove with terrorists.

Right-wing forces appear to have unleashed a massive polarisation campaign across West Bengal. In fact the aims seem to go much beyond West Bengal if the propaganda on social media is anything to go by.

Besides polaraising West Bengal, the aim seems to be to stoke fear among Hindus in other parts of the country as well by projecting that the community is under threat.

On every social media platform – WhatsApp and Facebook in particular – there is a deluge of fake news of Hindus being attacked, their shops and houses being looted and women being raped.

Expressing alarm at the fake messages, Mamata Banerjee has said, “There is ‘Fakebook’ happening in the name of Facebook”.

Not just social media, even right wing propaganda websites and even a few news channels have gone berserk with stories of “Hindus being butchered” and “Banerjee’s Jihadi links”

The real impetus for this mission seems to be coming from BJP’s parent organisation – the RSS.

“Through the unabashed appeasement and patronage of jihadi elements Mamata has created a Frankenstein which is now wreaking havoc in the state. The border areas of the state have turned Bangladesh where Hindus are being
persecuted,” alleged RSS state functionary Jishnu Bose. .

” The only option that people of Bengal now have is RSS-BJP,” he claimed

With its presence in nearly 300 out of 341 blocks of state, the RSS has gained considerable ground in Bengal.

According to its own estimates, the number of Shakhas crossed 1500 in 2016, up from just about 500 in 2011.

The “jihadi threat” has been an important element in the RSS’ mobilisation in Bengal.
Another key element in the RSS propaganda is linking acts of crime at the local level to Muslims. The outfit’s functionaries claim that majority of crimes in Bengal have been committed by Muslims, a charge that hasn’t been backed by any data.