In June 2019, Mahua Maitra’s enthusiastic speech about the “Seven Early Signs of Fascism” created a stir. Although the Treasury bench MPs tried to shout at him, the Trinamool Congress MP, with his first speech, lasted for about 10 minutes, finally ending with a shake-up from the opposition bench and members of his own party.
Two years later, a statement, no less enthusiastic, brought Maitra to a place where there are FIRs and multiple allegations against him. Maitra’s remarks on July 5 during an interaction at the India Today East Conclave on the goddess Kali – created in the wake of objections to the documentary ink by Canadian filmmaker Leena Manimekalai – have angered the BJP and Hindu groups. And his party’s denial from the Trinamool Congress. A few voices of support, if any, have been largely muted
Growing up, friends rarely, if ever, move away from the beaten path. Born into a tea garden family in Assam, he studied hard, passed his schooling exams, earned a scholarship to a degree in mathematics and economics at Mount Holyoke College in Massachusetts, and got a high-paying job as a banker in New York. And London.
Somewhere along the way, he took a break – and took a different turn. That moment of reflection came at its 10th college reunion in 2008, Maitra said at a gathering of school students in July 2019. “Do I want to return to my 20th reunion as another managing director of JPMorgan or do I want to return? Is there a difference? “
This time, Maitra did not hedge his bet. Returning to India, he did a brief stint with the Congress during which he led the booth-level ‘Aam Aadmi Ka Sepahi’ campaign conceived by Rahul Gandhi in Bengal before joining the Trinamool Congress in 2010.
Now, while he is fighting alone against the strong call for his arrest, he remains an MP for the first time in the Krishnanagar constituency of West Bengal.
“I would like to say again that I did not in any way support or say a word about the picture or the poster. My statement was a reality and experience of how Mother Kali is worshiped by her fans and what she represents to me. Religion is an integral part of our personal lives and now is the time for us to take this bull by the horns and restore our right to be able to talk about our beliefs and habits, ”he told the Sunday Express.
His remarks are in line with the strong call for grassroots Bengali sub-nationalism, a strategy that helped the party deal with the BJP’s Hindutva narrative in the 2021 Assembly elections. But confirming that Maitra’s remarks could torpedo the possibility of her leaving her home place, the Trinamool quickly moved away.
In a highly polarized environment, where grassroots remain vocal against the “politics of division” while trying to resist the BJP’s attack on “minority appeasement”, Maitra’s remarks could upset that complex balance for the party. The Kolkata police, above all, summoned Nupur Sharma and the assembly passed a resolution against the BJP leader’s remarks about Nabi Muhammad.
“It’s not just what he said, it’s how he said it. Saying that mother Kali is given whiskey is different from saying that mother Kali is given Karan Sudha (an alcoholic beverage given at the feet of the goddess in certain traditions). The idea that mother Kali eats meat is different from the notion of animal sacrifice, which has declined over the years due to much greater awareness and judicial intervention. A good speaker keeps these subtleties in mind, ”said a TMC leader on condition of anonymity.
But Maitra thinks that going around religion is beneficial for the BJP. “At this time, many people told me to avoid talking about religion. This is exactly why the BJP has been able to impose their version of Hindutva on us. Hinduism is not their territory and I will not give up an inch, ”he said.
After a three-year term as MLA of the rural Karimpur Center on the border of Bangladesh, Maitra was elected to the Lok Sabha in 2019 from Krishnanagar. Soon, he was made the party’s Nadia district president – a sign of Mamata Banerjee’s confidence in Maitra.
But he stood in Parliament, with his outspoken speeches that often lifted the opposition, which was eroded in strength and consciousness. He has also appealed to the Supreme Court against the Citizenship (Amendment) Act and the Sedition Act.
Congress leader Shashi Tharoor, who was among those who backed Maitreya’s remarks after the uproar, told The Sunday Express: As. He was impressive in both roles, ”he said.
Tharu’s colleague in the party and parliament, Congress’ Karti Chidambaram, said, “Mahua is a very enthusiastic and passionate member of parliament. She is unmarried, educated, independent and an opinionated woman, whose idea the BJP does not like. That’s why it attacks him so violently. “
Still, there are others who say Maitra’s behavior is “immature and emotional”. During the last budget session, he lost his temper as the presiding officer shortened his speech to pass the time allotted for him and later even tweeted criticizing Speaker Om Birla. The next day the House condemned his behavior.
A Rajya Sabha MP said, “Everyone keeps a distance from him because MPs think he is a bit of a temperament. Outspoken but sharp. “
Srila, immature, passionate. Maitra shuts down these labels, even seizes them. “If a man has these qualities, he’s a leader, but if a woman has these qualities, he’s a B *** H. It’s across the board. It’s part of the territory, and now I enjoy tags a lot instead of trying and fighting. I do, ”he says
However, discussions about his “arrogance” have echoed in Nadia district, which is the Krishnanagar constituency of Maitra.
On June 22, shortly before the re-application to the state assembly after a break in the minutes, the people in the front row, mostly grassroots ministers, returned to see a yellow pamphlet on their table. The leaflet was a list of allegations against their Krishnanagar MP Maitra. The complainant, who went by the name of Remedy Mandal, alleged that Maitra, as the district president of Nadia, “regularly insulted the senior leaders of the district”.
A grassroots leader in Nadia said, “He thinks insulting senior leaders is the only way to show his strength. He has forgotten that these leaders are behind the deep roots of the party. “
Another young leader disagrees: “He has his own way of building an organization. He is outspoken, well-educated and tech-savvy. Some back-dated senior leaders are not ready to accept him.
In August last year, Maitra was ousted as Trinamool’s Nadia president because his subordinate district unit fought to curb factional strife and failed to win assembly elections – the party won only eight of the 17 seats, with the BJP winning the rest.
Last December, Banerjee ticked Maitra over infighting in the district ahead of the civic elections at an administrative review meeting in Nadia. In a video that went viral, Maitra was seen shaking her head silently when Banerjee pulled her. The incident was the first sign that the alliance may have ended in the wrong direction of leadership.
Regarding the allegations, Maitra said, “Every human being misunderstands someone at different stages of life. The most important thing is to be true to yourself. “
In the early 18th century, King Krishnachandra Roy, an influential zamindar of Nadia, after whom the Maitra constituency is believed to be named Krishnanagar, issued an annual order, ordering people to worship Goddess Kali, warning of punishment for disobedience. .
“As a result of this order, worship of Goddess was celebrated in more than 10,000 houses in Krishnanagar district in one night. The number of animals destroyed could not be less than 10,000, ”the Baptist missionary William Ward recorded in his book A View of the History, Literature and Religion of the Hindus.
Since the modern public representative of this region is fighting a political crisis for his comments about the same deity, it is a parallel that is hard to miss.