A PEEP INTO ‘HINDU’ NARRATIVES OF BENGAL HISTORY!
By Prof. Shamsul Islam
The whole thrust of the RSS-BJP election campaign for 2021 state assembly elections in Bengal has been to save Bengal from the rule of Mamata Bannerjee who is not a ‘Hindu’.
PM of India, Narendra Bhai Modi, a self-proclaimed Hindu nationalist, as usual set the polarizing agenda. While addressing the first election rally, he called upon the electorate to overthrow the ‘nirmam’ (cruel) rule of Mamata by showing a ‘Ram Card’. He did not name Hindus directly but there was no confusion about the religious identity of the electorate Indian PM was addressing to. 
Amit Shah, the RSS-BJP; Chanakya or the main strategist for Bengal polls minced no words in exposing the anti-Hindu Mamata Banerjee. According to him, “school teachers in Bengal were beaten up for organising ‘saraswati puja’. The TMC dispensation does not allow Saraswati puja celebration in schools.” 
Amit Shah kept on harping upon the theme that Mamata-led government was behind the infiltration of the Bangladeshis [meaning Muslims] in Bengal “who are loved dearly by Didi”. Thus Mamata Bannerjee was indulging in appeasement of Muslims. He added another crime of Mamata against Hindus when he alleged that the latter did not get permission for doing visarjan [immersion] after Durga Puja under Mamata government’s rule.” 
How the star ‘Hindu’ campaigner from Bengal Suvendu Adhikari targetted Mamata Bannerjee for chanting ‘Inshallah’ [Allah-willing] and ‘Khuda Hafiz’ [Khuda takes care] used by Muslims and not ‘Jai Shri Ram’ was made clear by Monideepa Banerjie, a Bengal based renowned journalist in the following words: “A campaign that has seen Suvendu Adhikari of the BJP repeatedly addressing Mamata Banerjee as ‘Begum’ [Muslim lady], repeatedly referring to the threat of Nandigram turning into a mini-Pakistan if she is voted to power, repeatedly warning people that if the Trinamool wins this time, the Hindus will not be able to wear the traditional dhoti and the traditional tilaks (the smear of red on the forehead.)” 
RSS-BJP also fielded Uttar Pradesh Chief Minister Yogi Adityanath, a hard-core Muslim basher and anti-secularist as a prominent campaigner after Modi and Amit Shah. In a series of meetings he declared Trinamool Congress (TMC) led by Mamata Bannerjee as a party which was opposed to the chant of ‘Jai Shri Ram’ [Hail Sri Ram]. Yogi was confident that that the public would definitely punish the ‘Ramdrohis’ [disloyal to Rama].
Yogi Adityanath in an election meeting held in the first week of March (2021) went to the extent of describing Mamata Banerjee-led TMC as an organization which was opposed to God (‘bhagwaan’) in the state. Since festival of colours, Holi was few days away, he reminded the audiences, “Holi will be celebrated after few days. Holika is lit on the day of Holi. Holika also opposed God.” He was seeking votes for RSS-BJP so that anti-god party like TMC meets the fate of Holika. It was not difficult to miss the connection between female demon Holika and a female leader Mamata. Mamata needs to be destroyed.
Adityanath while attacking Mamata Bannerjee kept on referring to other anti-Hindu crimes of her borrowing from the RSS hateful propaganda literature. Cow slaughter, smuggling and ‘love jihad’ were happening due to the ‘appeasement politics’. Without naming Muslims, he kept on stating that
“appeasement politics for the sake of vote bank has endangered the security of not only West Bengal but also of the country.”
He also kept on telling the audiences that the raising of ‘Jai Shri Ram’ slogan was not allowed in West Bengal, Durga Puja was banned so the TMC government should be punished for “playing with their religious sentiments”. What did he mean by ‘their’ was not difficult to surmise. 
Those of us who are familiar with the RSS-BJP’s propaganda mechanism would know that mere allegations of anti-Hindu crimes of Mamata Bannerjee were presented as truth without offering any proof. Interestingly, the Left and to some extent Congress competing with TMC in these elections criticized her for appeasing the Hindutva forces in Bengal.
Economist, social justice thinker and Nobel laureate Amartya Sen expressed his indignation at “the fanning of the dangerous flames of communal divisions [that] has not occurred as strongly in Bengal since 1946”.
According to him the saddest part has been that “one of the major political contenders in the electoral battles portrays a part of the ‘insider’ population of Bengal — in particular, Bengali Muslims — as less deserving of support, while deriving their strength from the support of Hindu activists coming originally from outside Bengal, the dividing lines are hard to be kept pure”. 
UP chief minister Adityanath has been reminding the electorate in Bengal that
“the national leadership of the BJP and every worker of the party has come here to connect to the Bengali brothers and sisters to re-establish the identity of Bengal and carry forward a new change through this”.
In the light of the totality of the content of his speeches during the current Bengal elections or otherwise it is too obvious to know that Adityanath’s reference to Bengali brothers and sisters meant Hindus of Bengal only. 
Interestingly, it is not for the first time in the history that Hindus of Bengal are being promised liberation from the anti-Hindu rulers by the outsider Hindus. RC Majumdar (1880-1980) was a doyen among Indian historians whose works on ancient India and freedom struggle are rated highly. He is even described by the Hindutva scholars as a true ‘Bhartiya’ historian. He narrated how once Marathas promised to establish ‘Hindu Raj’ [Hindu rule] and what the consequences were.
According to Majumdar, “There are good grounds to believe that some such idea was present in the mind of the great Peshwa Baji Rao 1 (1700-1740), and he openly preached the ideal of Hindu Pad Padshahi (Hindu empire). This ideal evidently helped him in great deal, as the Hindu Zemindars and ruling chiefs showed active sympathy with the Maratha cause. But, unfortunately, this ideal was not systematically pursued, and seems to have been altogether given up by his successors. As an evidence of this, we may cite two positive facts.“In the first place, when the Marathas invaded Bengal during the reign of Alivardi Khan, they terribly oppressed the Hindus and Muslims alike. Contemporary Bengali records seem to indicate that the Hindus of Bengal at first regarded the Marathas as deliverers from the yoke of the Muslims, but the incredible atrocities perpetrated by the Marathas completely alienated the Hindus from them. Secondly, it is a well-known fact that far from enlisting the sympathy and support of the great Rajput chiefs, the Marathas terribly oppressed them and made them their enemies. 
Sir Jadunath Sarkar (1870-1958), again a renowned historian, held no brief for Islam or Muslim rulers in India. In fact, he is regarded as a narrator of the Hindu history during the Mughal rule. However, his description of the Maratha invasion of Bengal in 1742, too, makes it clear that this army of ‘Hindu nation’ cared least about honour and property of Hindus of Bengal. According to Sarkar, “the roving Maratha bands committed wanton destruction and unspeakable outrage”. 
Sarkar, in his monumental work on the history of Bengal, quoted eyewitnesses to relate the stories of sufferings of Bengali Hindus at the hands of Marathas. According to one of the eyewitnesses, Gangaram, whose testimony was reproduced by Sarkar, the Marathas snatched away gold and silver, rejecting everything else. Of some people they cut off the hands, of some the nose and ear; some they killed outright. They dragged away the beautiful women and freed them only after raping them. 
Another eyewitness, Vaneshwar Vidyalankar, the court Pandit of the Maharaja of Bardwan, thus narrated the horrifying tales of atrocities committed by the Marathas. “Shahu Raja’s troops are niggard of pity, slayers of pregnant women and infants, of Brahmans and the poor, fierce of spirit, expert in robbing the property of every one and committing every kind of sinful act.” 
What the RSS-BJP is attempting to accomplish as champions of Hindus of Bengal is not a new strategy of the ruling classes when faced with challenge to its dehumanized exploitative rule from its own people. Karl Marx, in his monumental work, The Eighteenth Brumaire of Louis Bonaparte (1852), brilliantly, highlighted this character of the rulers who when faced with periods of revolutionary crisis,
“Anxiously conjure up the spirits of the past to their service and borrow from them names, battle-cries and costumes in order to present the new scene of world history in this time-honoured disguise and this borrowed language.” 
Link for some of S. Islam’s writings in English, Hindi, Urdu, Marathi, Malayalam, Kannada, Bengali, Punjabi, Gujarati and video interviews/debates:
 Majumdar, R. C., History of the Freedom Movement in India, vol. i (Calcutta: Firma KL Mukhopadhyay, 1971), pp. 2-3.
 Sarkar, Jadunath (ed.), The History of Bengal- Muslim Period 1200 A.D.–1757 A.D., volume ii, (Delhi: BR Publishing, 2003), (first edition 1948), 457.
 Ibid., p. 457.
 Ibid., p. 458.
 Marx, Karl, The Eighteenth Brumaire of Louis Bonaparte, in Karl Marx–Frederick Engels Collected Works, Vol. 11, Progress Publishers, Moscow, 1979), p. 130.