By Digvijay Singh
आज जो ये ताले हैं लगे हमारे घरों में ,
कल वो और भी मकान ढूँढने आएँगे ।
What is it like to be a youngster in West Bengal who returns from Delhi to his homeland in pursuit of creating a larger impact in the community through political participation in the Bharatiya Janata Party?
The dream of giving back to the ‘janambhumi’ and tugging together a network of compatible youth who can be the harbinger of change brought us in conjunction. The choice was an individual and motivated one emanating from the belief that ‘Together, we can’. The Young force agreeing on principles sutured together a dream, to foster the needs of the society. We had with us plenitudes of aspirations and a cluster of stumbling blocks. The path has been full of Sturm und Drang for every ‘karyakarta’ and each one of us face it with unyielding courage every day in the land of Tagore.
As a BJP worker I believe ideological commitment is the key unlike various other political parties where the cadre base withers away when power becomes passive, and the most evident feature of such outfits is to their attempt stay in power no matter what; in the BJP our basic training guides us to prioritise National Interest whether power stays or transits.
The Remonstrance is the enchantment of being a BJP karyakarta in West Bengal. It is a privilege and attribute of conscious courage and an individual choice. We carry the cordon with immense pride despite impediments, blood, unleashed violence, and excruciation. ‘Nationalism’, ‘Hindutva’ and the dream of ‘Akhand Bharat’ drives us to build together a stronger organization in the State every new morning.
The feeling is very different and can never be expressed into words or articulated on any given platform. I am not ‘one’, we are many and the number increases every day – so do the challenges. There is fear, and there is hope, but the ‘will’ to contribute to the society through constructive politics and positive intent amidst the anarchy remains a constant.
The connotation of political opposition in West Bengal is noteworthy.
From the Battle of Plassey to the partition of Bangladesh, there has been an interesting timeline of political economy and socio-cultural events. Mapping the political history of the state and the region unravels many illustrious manifestations of glory, revolts, renaissance, enlightenment and, wisdom in Pre-independence era – which stands contrary to the unfortunate post-colonial political scenario. Ever since the first sworn in Government led by the Indian National Congress, the politics of the state has been deeply confined to violent transition, vendetta and institutional anarchy.
Growing up in Asansol, one of most prosperous cities of India given the natural resources and Industrial infrastructure, known as the city of brotherhood, the city has its own tale to tell. As a son of a worker of a steel plant, I have seen trade unions, strikes, movements and negotiations very closely. When Karl Marx gave the utopian call of “Workers of the world, unite,” I believe he had no clue of choices that workers would opt for in future. There were numerous trade unions and numerous ideologies that floated in the ‘Steel town’ but ultimately the union that conformed to the ruling party in the state was supported by the ruling dispensation and enjoyed all perks. The dissenters were silenced and every other day our school was shutdown to comply with the ‘strike’ called by the political workers in retaliation. The police worked under strict supervision of local cadre and the command of the party has been the law beyond constitutionalism in every part of the state.
So being a political opposition in the state has always been a humongous calling.
Underscoring the anecdote is imperative to bring into light the ‘political culture’ of post-colonial Bengal. The Congress that ruled the state for almost twenty years manipulated land rights and continued to attach itself with the ‘Bhadralok’ elitism. By suppressing the voices of the marginalized and oppressed at the peripheries in the state, it kept a critical mass of populace out of power. The rise of Left and ‘Naxalbari’ goes hand in hand, the romance and separation are captivating.
Firstly, the Left used violence to come in power and secondly, it institutionalized the violence to continue that to be in power for consecutive seven terms following the Hegelian notion of ‘Power and Powerlessness’.
Resistance and aggression is quintessential to the politics of Bengal. Massive support responded to the clarion call of ‘maa, maati, and manush’ led by Mamata Banerjee, the lady who meant hope for the subaltern and appeared to represent the voice of entire West Bengal. The people personified in her the idea of inclusion, development, transparency, accountability, and democracy. Lamentably the hope of the masses stands shattered, and the combat that began to restore democracy resulted in jeopardizing basic principles of constitution, suffrage, and egalitarianism.
Parallel to this, I locate myself as a young aspiring politician with intent and objective of constructive endeavours coupled with experience, knowledge, vision, and network that encourages one to work at the grassroots. This is an advantage that I hold over as compared to other fellow party workers who face the anger and wrath of opposition directly at the ground level and lug with the ramifications.
There is systemic and perpetual violence, social exclusion, exodus, rehabilitation, rape, anguish, threat and rape. It is not only an individual who undergoes through this trauma but consequently the family experiences continuous despise. There is an unreasonable ecosystem of abhorrence, false cases, assaults, psychological pressure, economic deprivation and intentional construction of social impediments for us and every karyakarta, who dares to hold the saffron flag.
The surge of the party and the rising popularity of the party have pushed the ruling dispensation to be more atrocious to us, but paradoxically the number of youth, women, and intelligentsia joining the party stands unabated. This is our pride, and as a normal worker this has pushed me, along with many to work relentlessly for the party and the cause no matter what.
I had this opportunity to work as the national head of the Study circle of BJP youth wing, and worked to connect across colleges, universities and youth. The then President of Youth Wing Smt. Poonam Mahajan gave us that inspiration; she believed that ‘A leader is one who makes a platform for other leaders especially at the grassroots. Following the same I have been working to connect and create a pool of grassroots leaders and generate impact on the ground. I also got a chance to work as vice president of BJP youth wing of West Bengal, and we have been carrying several initiatives to connect to the youth across the state.
The growth and response have been unprecedented. Simultaneously, there has been a surge in false cases, implications, atrocities, rampage, bloodshed, political murders, and sexual violence. The ruling party has continuously failed to acknowledge the essence of constructive opposition in the state and has shown zero tolerance to any affirmative work taken up by the workers.
Individually and collectively, I like many others went through a series of attacks, not only at physical or psychological level but also at the socio-economic level.
From Amphan cyclone relief work, COVID-19 help during the first wave till the current wave, there have been a series of attempts by the local administration, cadre and the Government to not allow workers of BJP carry out their social endeavours. I, along with several other prominent leaders including the elected MLAs and MPs were stopped from going out to help, few were detained, and few faced house arrests.
Administrative hindrance is still tolerable but a group of unruly mob attacking you, the cadre of the ruling dispensation using anti-social elements to contain your zeal and enthusiasm to serve the society is beyond our understanding and cognition.
I started the ration drive for needy, milk distribution for infants, animal feeding, medicines, sanitary napkins, mask, and all possible supplies during first wave of COVID-19 last year. A lot of young karyakartas and enthusiastic youth not aligned to any political ideology in particular, joined the movement. The drive continued for sixty-four continuous days but each day we faced a lot of challenges and obstructions at various level.
This was the common experience of every BJP worker carrying out relief work across the state: non-cooperation from administration, wrath of the cadre of the ruling party and threats to individuals including family members of the workers.
The irrationality of actions of the ruling party is what has created friction not only betwixt parties but also administration and people. It is astonishing to see such political intolerance and one form of exclusion for being a constituent of BJP and engaging in social endeavours.
When the entire world fought COVID-19, we as BJP workers of West Bengal faced the double challenge of COVID-19 and political tyranny. The autocratic rule lead by the TMC has left no stone unturned to harass the workers in any form, using law and order or be it brute naked force.
What is unspeakable is the fear being construed, the sounds of bullets that haunts my family till today, the tears of each family member, and how your neighbours choose to remain silent.
Pick up a particular worker like me or do a general survey of the contemporary scenario in the state, you will encipher dictatorship to another level, distorted narrative and insulated media reportage. ‘
During this entire journey of my political activism in West Bengal, I have heard only one thing from my family that please go back to Delhi. My mother has gone through sleepless nights and father through a social trauma. Today we have a lock hanging at our residence in West Bengal, and no one from the family wants to go back there and stay.
So much of hostility and disapproval, this is how it feels to be a political opponent in West Bengal. I choose to mention this not to have any sympathy but to make you realise that when workers of BJP from rural West Bengal or different parts of the country share their aguish, it is for real. When the family of an empowered individual like me feels threatened, imagine the perturbed journey of the marginalised and the poor. This has not been easy but the ideological commitment and Hindutva as a driving force keeps us an effective and progressive contributor to the Nation first, party second, and self last, for ourselves are formulated from the nation and the party.
Is it a crime to believe in a democratic arrangement of political system, political ideology, and object to the idea of communal appeasement and illegal immigration? We have already lost more than 200 of our brothers and sisters subjected the political arrogance of the ruling party and if this continues in the form of post-poll violence, there will be no end to the massacre. The anarchy prevails, exodus continues, threat pertains at every level, the idea of being of a BJP worker is encompassed with a continual embodiment with law enforcing authorities, mafias supported by cadre of ruling party and despotic approach of the state government.
A lot of houses today have lost their near ones owing to COVID-19, but in West Bengal it is because of political violence and appeasement policies of the state government.
We still stand stronger than before with the intent to work constructively, face the tyranny with righteous moral strength, curtail the anarchy, develop a social partnership and reach out to the last person in the society.
A Resolute BJP Karyakarta!
Author is currently the State Vice President BJP Youth Wing, West Bengal
(The views and opinions expressed in this article are those of the authors and do not necessarily reflect the official policy or position of The True Picture. The writers are solely responsible for any claims arising out of the contents of this article.)