(With additional inputs and political reax) Kolkata, Sep 14 (PTI) With an eye on the votes of the Hindi speaking populace in the 2021 West Bengal assembly polls, the ruling Trinamool Congress on Monday formalised the structure of its Hindi cell and appointed party MP Dinesh Trivedi as its chairman.
The Hindi speaking population holds sway in some of the areas of the state.
West Bengal Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee Monday appointed Trivedi, former Railway minister and one of the prominent non-Bengali faces of the party as the chairman of the West Bengal Trinamool Congress Hindi cell.
Vivek Gupta, editor of a Hindi daily and a former TMC MP appointed as its president.
Earlier in the day, Banerjee wished the people on Hindi Diwas and said the state government has taken various initiatives to strengthen Hindi education, besides the culture and welfare of the community in Bengal.
'Warm wishes on #HindiDiwas.Bengal is a land of inclusivity, and through our persistent efforts, we have proudly inculcated Tagore's values of 'Unity in Diversity'.GoWB has taken various initiatives to strengthen Hindi Education, Culture and Welfare of the community in Bengal,' Banerjee said in a tweet.
She took the oppurtunity to remind the Centre to include Bengali as a classical language in the new National Education Policy (NEP).
'GoWB has constantly persevered to undertake inclusive development for all by giving recognition to Hindi, Urdu, Gurmukhi, Ol Chiki, Rajbanshi, Kamtapuri, Kurukh languages. I urge the Centre to follow suit by also including Bengali as a classical language in NEP 2020' she tweeted.
According to TMC sources, the formation of the Hindi cell and appointment of Trivedi as its chairman is aimed at wooing the Hindi-speaking voters of the state, who had shifted their allegiance to BJP during the 2019 Lok Sabha polls..
'In some of the areas of North 24 Parganas, Siliguri, central Kolkata, Asansol, Durgapur and some other parts of the state the Hindi-speaking population is a deciding factor in some of the assembly seats. Although they had voted for us all these years, during 2019 polls they had voted for BJP. We need to win them back,' a senior TMC leader said.
The development comes in the backdrop of Bengali sub-nationalism emerging as a rallying cry in West Bengal ahead of the assembly elections.
Speaking at an online news conference, Trivedi said the Hindi cell, which has been functioning informally since 2011, was given a formal structure to create 'an open platform for bringing together all Hindi speaking people of the state'.
He said Mamata Banerjee sees all languages as a bouquet and the state has kept its doors open to people speaking different languages.
'It is sad that Bengali has still not been given the status of a classical language, which it ought to be,' he said adding that it is also imperative to hold the national joint entrance examination in Bengali as well.
Gupta said Bengal is the melting pot of culture and the Hindi cell will try to unite people and defeat the divisive forces trying to create fissures among the people.
West Bengal is the only non-Hindi speaking state to have a Hindi university, besides numerous Hindi medium schools and colleges, he said.
Reacting to the development, West Bengal BJP president Dilip Ghosh said the cell had been created with an eye on Hindi-speaking voters.
'It is good that those who have been saying that outsiders will not rule Bengal have understood the importance of Hindi. But the fact is this cell has been created with an eye on elections and TMC is not at all serious about it,' Ghosh said.
After the electoral reverses in the Lok Sabha poll, last year and the rise of the BJP as a prime contender, Banerjee has often invoked the 'Bengali pride' and labelled BJP a party of 'outsiders'.
Narratives themed around 'Bengali pride' and 'natives versus outsiders' are slowly gaining momentum, with various outfits raising the pitch for reservation for domicile Bengalis in jobs and education in the state, where until a few years ago cultural sub-nationalism was an alien concept.
The latest to add fuel to the fire was the alleged online vilification of Bengali women with many fans of deceased actor Sushant Singh Rajput calling his rumoured girlfriend Rhea Chakraborty and others from the community 'gold diggers' and 'witches'. PTI DC PNT KK KK