Speculation To Separate North Bengal, Any Equation Behind?: It is a long tradition in West Bengal politics to fuel speculations about the breakup of North Bengal before the polls. It is being said from one or two quarters that there is a story behind everything to ensure BJP seats in the Lok Sabha polls. However, even after Benazir’s speculation was created by a section of the media, the confusion about the division of the state did not spread widely. writing Sutirtha Chakraborty
that It is a long-standing tradition in West Bengal politics to fuel speculations about the breakup of North Bengal before any polls. People of North Bengal are also used to seeing it. In fact, whenever there is a clamor from some quarter to make North Bengal a separate state or union territory, the people there feel that the vote is coming. It is also true that different political parties have benefited in votes from this speculation of breaking up North Bengal. The demand for the separation of North Bengal created two different effects in the two Bengals. By creating a balanced chemistry between the two, that political advantage is reaped.
Keeping in mind the Lok Sabha polls of 2024, speculations of the secession of North Bengal have been fueled much earlier. If panchayat polls are ‘targeted’, that is of course a different question. Panchayat polls are three-four months away. Before that, speculations about making North Bengal a union territory may be heated by some. But the manner in which the idea of union territory has come forward this time, it is clear that the issue is not limited to panchayat polls only. Thoughts are longer. About three-four districts of Bihar and part of one district of Lower Assam have been merged with North Bengal. That is, the equation of Lok Sabha votes is being kept in mind.
It is being said from one or two quarters that there is a story behind everything to ensure BJP seats in the Lok Sabha polls. In the last Lok Sabha polls in North Bengal, the BJP won in eight constituencies. Two years later the picture changed a lot in the assembly polls. Then there were more ups and downs in state politics. During this time, the organizational strength of the BJP in North Bengal has been greatly eroded. Which is reflected in the recent municipal elections. Just like in South Bengal, the BJP has been swept clean in the polls everywhere in North Bengal, including Siliguri. Soon after the Assembly polls, Union Minister of State John Barla floated the idea of a union territory comprising the districts of North Bengal from Maldah to Darjeeling. However, the idea was immediately opposed officially by the BJP. But, with some more water flowing through the Teesta-Mahananda, suspicions have been raised that the BJP may have some scheming behind Barla’s announcement. Recently, speculations about the union territory have been fueled extensively by fronting returning KLO militant Jeevan Singh and ‘Greater Cooch Behar’ movement leader Anant Maharaj. Bihar’s Kishanganj, Purnia, Katihar, and Araria districts and Assam’s Dhubri have been linked with North Bengal. It is a huge region with a total of 80 assembly constituencies.
A theory is being spread from some quarters of the BJP that if a union territory is created with these parts of North Bengal, Bihar and Assam, it is possible to ensure victory in at least 12 seats in the Lok Sabha. Last time BJP won 54 seats in Bihar, Bengal, Jharkhand, and Odisha. This time, the BJP leaders understand that it is not possible to retain 54 seats in the changing political situation of the region. After Nitish Kumar gave up his hand, it is impossible for BJP to retain the last 17 seats in Bihar. If the grand alliance of Nitish, Lalu, and Congress works well, there is also a possibility that BJP will become zero in Bihar.
The BJP won 18 seats in the last Lok Sabha polls in West Bengal. BJP’s votes in the Lok Sabha polls may also go down if their votes in the assembly and municipal elections continue to decline. It is not clear what will happen to BJP in Jharkhand as well. At this point, the BJP may have to strategize to somehow ensure victory in at least some seats in these four states. This faction of the BJP claims that even if Assam is excluded, if Bengali-Bihar is a union territory, at least it will be possible to win 10-12 seats by fully utilizing the administration in that area.
It is yet to be heard whether the party leaders have agreed to this statement by BJP. No statement from the BJP leadership was found in support of the news that is being published in various media. The state leadership of BJP is officially saying, ‘There is no basis for the speculations going on in the media about the partition of Bengal. BJP is for a united West Bengal following the policy of Shyamaprasad Mukhopadhyay. But, at the same time, some BJP leaders are also fueling the speculations of state division by meeting with Anant Maharaj. After meeting with BJP leaders, Anant Maharaj is publicly declaring that state partition is a matter of time. News of Jeevan Singh’s communication with Assam Chief Minister Himanta Biswa Sharma is coming to light.
Can BJP leaders and ministers behave in such an irresponsible manner in front of an important and sensitive issue like statehood? For what reason and on what basis Bengal will be divided, no comprehensible argument can be found anywhere. Trinamool Congress strongly opposed Bengali Partition. Can a state be dissolved if a few people in one part of the state claim something different? Is breaking the state as easy as breaking the bottle of oil? There is an occasional message that the Center is concerned about the security of the narrow ‘chicken neck’ corridor near Siliguri. Propaganda is going on from the self-interested quarters that a part of Bengal and Bihar will be broken by giving the pretext of the security of the ‘chicken neck’.
Overnight, Narendra Modi-Amit Shah made Kashmir into two Union Territories. Rumors are spreading in the state that along the same lines, a bill will be introduced in Parliament in the dead of night to declare a union territory with parts of North Bengal and Bihar. Recently, a source in the Union Home Ministry was quoted in an all-India media as saying that no plan has been accepted by the Ministry to create a Union Territory by breaking up Bengal, Bihar, and Assam. There was never any discussion about this. It is surely clear to the people of North Bengal why the BJP is playing with fire again with rumors spreading in various quarters and various secret meetings and suggestive behavior on the part of the leadership. So even after the Benazir speculations were created by a section of the media, the confusion about the division of the state did not spread widely. People probably understand that a separate state or union territory is not at arm’s length. If the BJP has to pay the price of fueling such speculations, then the BJP will suffer more in the Lok Sabha polls!