The Trinimool Congress government is subtly fomenting communal passions in West Bengal, Buddhadeb Bhattacharjee, the State’s former Chief Minister and member of the Polit Bureau of the Communist Party of India (Marxist) said here on Thursday.

“The government here is appealing to communal sentiments and subtly stirring passions…It is going nowhere close to addressing the urgent problems of lack of development, education and poverty that afflict the Muslim poor…We have many charges against the government but this is among the principal ones”, he said.

Mr Bhattacherjee was addressing a convention - “National Integration, Unity and Communal Harmony Day” organised by the State’s Left Front committee to mark the 20{+t}{+h}anniversary of the demolition of Babri Masjid in Ayodhya.

One outcome of the government’s policies was that the Bharatiya Janata Party is raising its head in the State, Mr Bhattacharjee observed.

He pointed out that while the BJP had polled 10 per cent of the votes in the October by-elections for the Jangipur Lok Sabha seat in Murshidabad district, Muslim political groupings had garnered another 7 per cent. “This has come as a lesson to the Leftists and is a matter of serious concern”, he said.

Accusing the BJP of trying to divide the country on communal lines, Mr Bhattacharjee said that while its economic policies were the same of those of the Congress it had an added agenda.

“The Congress is dividing the country – one for the rich, the other for the poor; the BJP has the same policy but it is also dividing the Hindus and the Muslims”, he noted.

As for the performance of the Congress-led United Progressive Alliance government “Manmohan Singh claims that the country is moving forward; we say that it has the highest number of unemployed in the world, the highest number of hungry. Can Mammohan Singh deny this?” Mr Bhattacharjee asked.

While asserting that the vow to ensure communal harmony should be renewed each year on December 6, he singled out veteran BJP leader LK Advani and his nation-wide rathajatra that preceded the demolition of Babri Masjid. “Those who were behind the demolition are today national leaders”, he regretted.

“The bringing together of religion and politics is wrong….The Leftists believe that people have a fundamental right to pursue their religion, but faith is one thing and communalism quite another”, Mr Bhattacharjee asserted, adding that international Islamic fundamentalism has got a hold on the country too.