Hindi ‘imposition’ add more fuel to Mamata’s anti-Centre ire

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Trinamool Congress’ war-cry against Union Home Minister Amit Shah’s recent statement on replacing English with Hindi as the country’s official language at a meeting of Parliament’s Official Language Committee is nothing but an extension of the ongoing battle-points that Mamata Banerjee and her party have raised against the Narendra Modi-led Union government.

According to political observers in the state, it is a fact that Trinamool Congress supremo Mamata Banerjee wants to play a role at the national level in the 2024 Lok Sabha elections and to do that she needs to open multiple battle-fronts against the Union government.

“She is already fighting a number of battles with the Union government on issues concerning West Bengal, where she has already claimed that the current Central government is stunting the country’s federal polity. However, her party’s resistance to the issue of Hindi- imposition has a national angle where her resistance can easily find support from the politicians of other non-Hindi speaking states, said political observer and analyst, Nirmalya Banerjee.

Now let us have a look at the other battle-fronts that the chief minister has opened against the Union government.

Central agency probe spat: Chit funds, Narada bribery video scam, cattle and coal smuggling, West Bengal School Service Commission (WBSSC) recruitment irregularities, Jhalda Congress leader murder and minor rape at Hanskhali — there are some of the burning issues in West Bengal in which central agencies like the Central Bureau of Investigation (CBI) and Enforcement Directorate (ED) are conducting probes.

In the Narada video scam, heavyweight state ministers like Firhad Hakim and late Subrata Mukherjee were even arrested by the CBI. Even Mamata Banerjee’s nephew and the Trinamool Congress’ national general secretary, Avishek Banerjee had to face central agency grilling in the alleged coal smuggling. Mamata Banerjee had tried to build up an opposition consensus against the Union government that the latter is deliberately using the central agencies against the prominent opposition leaders.

West Bengal government- state Governor spat: Cross-firing of salvos between West Bengal Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee and the state governor, Jagdeep Dhankhar on various state issues is almost a daily affair. A number of heavyweight ministers of the state cabinet, including the chief minister, have alleged that the Union government is not only trying to interfere into the affairs of the state government but also the state Assembly using the Governor, which goes against the federal structure of Indian democracy. The West Bengal Assembly Speaker Biman Banerjee has raised the issue a number of times in the all- India conferences of the different Assembly Speaker.

BSF’s jurisdiction extension issue: The Union home ministry’s decision to expand the area jurisdiction of Border Security Force (BSF) to 50 kilometers from the state’s borders with Bangladesh and Pakistan have been opposed tooth and nail by Mamata Banerjee and her party. According to the chief minister, this is a clandestine attempt by the Union government to give BSF a chance to interfere in the jurisdiction of the state police in the Indo-Bangladesh bordering districts in West Bengal.

The recent killings of alleged cattle-smugglers in BSF firing at the Indo- Bangladesh bordering Cooch Behar district of West Bengal, some of whom were Indian citizens, have prompted Trinamool Congress to sharpen its attack against the Union government on this count. Two-time Trinamool Congress MLA from Dinhata Assembly constituency in Cooch Behar district, Udayan Guha even went to the extent of alleging that male BSF personnel molest women in the borders of West Bengal under the pretext of frisking. The BSF authorities, however, have issued strong rejoinder against such allegations.

Dues in state’s share in GST: This is yet another issue that Mamata Banerjee is trying to develop a consensus among the non- BJP ruled states. On April 7, 2022, Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee told the media that a massive amount of Rs 90,000 crore of GST dues is pending from the Centre. She also said that she had talks with the chief ministers of other non-BJP ruled states and they too have similar complaints about huge unpaid Goods & Services Tax (GST) dues.

MGNREGA dues: The West Bengal government has recently issued a statement claiming that a massive amount of Rs 2,876 crore is due from the Union government under the MGNREGA scheme. The state government has alleged that these dues are being deliberately being held back by the Union government.

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