Unraveling of terror network mars the year for Bengal

TMC red-faced as state copes with Burdwan blast, scams

Unraveling of terror network mars the year for Bengal

The year 2014 was one of controversies, political upheaval, arrests and visits to courts in West Bengal, marked by few triumphs outside the political arena. The year was also one of high stress for the Trinamool Congress and growth for the Opposition BJP, rallies small and big, visits to hospitals by errant political leaders and unraveling of an extensive terror network.

The year started on a politically-charged note with the General Elections being held in April-May. While the usual fiery rhetoric set the mood for the poll season as words were bandied about between Trinamool chairperson Mamata Banerjee and Prime Minister hopeful Narendra Modi, leaders of various hues exchanged courtesies, foul words and accusations. The year also set the BJP as an aspirant to the ‘big chair’ of West Bengal with the saffron party growing stronger with every passing day.

Even as the ruling party in Bengal managed to retain its strongholds and rustled up 34 seats in the Lok Sabha, the BJP left an indelible mark on the state’s political map by winning two seats after more than a decade. The party, which emerged as the main Opposition force, also notched up around double of its earlier poll percentage as it moved up to 13 per cent of the total vote share, leaving the ruling party somewhat stumped.

Busting red bastion

The BJP managed to place a foothold on places that were earlier red strongholds, eating into the vote share of both the Left and the Congress, pushing these two parties further towards irrelevance. The year also witnessed celebrities of various shades join the political bandwagon with many of them winning the seats they were fighting for; from Bengali cinema’s heartthrob Deb to yesteryears’ star Moonmoon Sen, contesting on Trinamool ticket to popular playback singer Babul Supriyo on a BJP ticket.

While BJP’s march forward continued almost unhindered despite Trinamool continuing to posses a strong hand, the ruling party was left somewhat in the lurch with the multi-crore Saradha scam, which came to light in 2013, claiming as its prize many Trinamool leaders and associates. If retired IPS officer Rajat Majumdar was the first to be arrested for his role in the scam, others equally singed included Trinamool Rajya Sabha MP Srinjoy Bose and state transport minister Madan Mitra. Making best of the opportunity, BJP and the other opposition parties put in question the otherwise clean image of Mamata Banerjee the Honest.

The opposition parties also made things difficult for Trinamool when a blast at a house in Khagragarh of Burdwan district removed the lid off an extensive terror network of the Jamaat-ul-Mujahideen Bangladesh, which has managed to spread its tentacles across the country, right under the nose of the state administration and various central and state intelligence agencies. The revelation led the national investigation agency to delve further and arrest a number of people from across India. The situation gave BJP and other Opposition parties cause to blame the state administration for its inadequacies and point a finger at the government’s policy of Muslim appeasement.

On a lighter note, the city found triumph in the arena of sports, as the city’s cricket team, Kolkata Knight Riders in Indian Premier League and football team, Atletico de Kolkata in Indian Super League both notched a victory each to win the popular nationwide tournaments. An unknown 26-year-old wildlife filmmaker, Aswhika Kapoor, also brought the city’s first Green Oscar for her film on a “Sprightly Parakeet”.

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