Kolkata: Narendra Modi’s bête noire Mamata Banerjee is being showered with praises from an unexpected quarter. Swastika, the Rashtriya Swayamsevak Sangh’s (RSS) Bengali mouthpiece, has been extremely complimentary about the chief minister’s projected national ambitions.
In several articles published recently, the magazine even went to the extent of saying that both Prime Minister Modi and Banerjee have an “inseparable dream”—building a Congress-free India.
Observing that Banerjee’s success will mean a weakened Congress, Swastika has also suggested: “PM Modi, now 72, has got three years at the top given his party’s policy of retiring at 75. Mamata is now 67. After three years, she will be 70- 71. What is stored for her will be seen as the TMC [Trinamool Congress] is her own party and does not have any age restrictions.”
In its latest edition, the magazine has mentioned election strategist Prashant Kishor’s pro-Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) remarks and BJP MP and national vice-president Dilip Ghosh’s comment that Mamata wants to lead the Opposition as Congress interim president Sonia Gandhi’s “day are over”.
The mouthpiece also mentioned Kishor, who helped Banerjee win this year’s Assembly elections, criticising Congress MP Rahul Gandhi for staying outside the country most of the time and saying that leadership of the grand old party is not the divine right of an individual. It also described Banerjee’s recent comment, “What is UPA [United Progressive Alliance]? There is no UPA.”
Strangely, the same magazine in its December 6 edition had stated that since Banerjee cannot target Modi, she is going after Sonia and the Congress. “Both Modi and Delhi are out of bounds for Mamata. Sonia is within her limits. So, she is trying to put the last nail in the coffin of the Congress. She is not taking on the BJP in Goa, Tripura, Haryana and Uttar Pradesh but seeing to it that the Congress is finished in these states.”
With the Kolkata municipal corporation polls scheduled for December 19, Swastika’s latest edition hints at an adjustment between Modi and Banerjee. “Modi, Mamatar Rahashya jote phenshe sob dol (The mystery alliance between Modi and Mamata has other political parties on a sticky wicket),” reads the headline. The write-ups also hint at a tacit understanding between Banerjee and the RSS while urging the Swayamsevaks to go slow in their campaign against the TMC.
“The Trinamool Congress has always been under the umbrella of the RSS, whose agenda is to finish all secular political parties,” Anjan Bera, political commentator and professor of journalism at the University of Calcutta, told Newsclick. “It should be noted that the TMC and Mamata have not criticised the RSS even once. On the contrary, the RSS is operating smoothly in the state with the TMC coming back to power.”
Suggesting that the “TMC has become the favourite of anti-Left crony capitalists” in the state, Bera said, “Their agenda is to consolidate all the forces that are the product of crony capitalism in the country. The RSS needs such forces to fulfil its political ambition.”
In an editorial in 2004, RSS national weekly mouthpiece Panchajanya praised Banerjee as “Devi Durga” and she in return had termed the organisation “true patriots”.