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West Bengal: When the ruler acts as the oppressor
This article is about the recent Lok Sabha election and its effects in West Bengal, a politically sensitive state. After 34 years, the Left Front was defeated in 2011 and dethroned from Bengal. But the scenario has not changed. Red eyes of ruling party still haunt the common mass during pre and post election days. Terror, threatening, killing, rape, murder, molestation are still the everyday affairs despite the government's claims of better administration. Why? An analysis.

West Bengal witnessed the bloodshed and violence in the 16th General Lok Sabha elections again. With the completion of elections for 42 Lok Sabha seats in Bengal on May 12, the picture got quite clear.

Trinomool Congress, the ruling party flexed muscles with full vigour during the election days, claiming to occupy more seats than the last Lok Sabha elections in 2009. Both the Left Front and Congress shouted enough in front of the Election Commission of India and several media channels, expressing their grievances regarding violence by the Trinomool Congress musclemen (cadres). But all their efforts went in vain as the Chief Electoral Officer Sunil Gupta and chief observer Sudheer Rakesh failed to protect the democratic rights of the Bengal residents.

During the five phase election that spread over nearly two months in West Bengal, every time we came to know through various media channels about sporadic violence, booth capturing, terrorising the common people from not entering the polling booths, bombing, attack on opponent political party supporters with iron rods, bamboo sticks, choppers and other lethal weapons.

This is not the first time in West Bengal, the residents of Bengal has been experiencing the same since the days of late nineties; when the then ruling party Left Front cadres, mainly CPI (Marxist) supporters used to terrorise the people at the remote villages in the same way. Bloodshed was also then taken place; sometimes more, sometimes less. The vote machinery battalion during the Jyoti Basu-led Left Front government at their last phase reached to such an intolerable level that a major percentage of people stayed away from casting their votes.

The scenario changed during the Buddhadeb Bhattacharya's government. Somehow, the Buddhadeb Bhattacharya's government failed to keep a hold on the people's mandate which resulted in the defeat of Left Front in 2011 completely. Left Front ruled over Bengal for seven consecutive terms since 1977. During these 34 years of long rule, Bengal witnessed no major development in industrial sector. Agriculture was and is still the production base of Bengal. But no such rapid development took place in this sector also, though the Left Front government claimed themselves as the government of farmers and labours.

Mamata Banerjee utilised this drawback of Left Front. Before coming to power, she made several promises indeed, of which even one percent has not been fulfilled completely in these three years since 2011. In between, Mamata and her party members got involved in many disputes, scams and controversial issues. The Saradha scam, worth rupees 200-300 billion approximately, is one of the biggest and latest scam that now hangs on the TMC as a guillotine.

Recently, the Supreme Court has ordered the CBI to make an inquiry after the state appointed Shyamal Sen commission and administrative bodies completely failed to provide any right solution to the 1.7 million depositors. It is a jerk to the TMC government during the election, which compel them to secure vote-banks by hook or by crook.

Mamata's so-called promises of turning the cash-strived Bengal to paradise acted as a boomerang to those, who voted for her party in 2011 seeking a 'change' (poriborton). This includes the intellectual section also who used to be the major supporter of the Left Front before 2011. There is no doubt that depending upon the intellectual class Mamata's party came to power in Bengal.

The state witnessed many issues which comparatively was lesser during the Left Front government. Mamata, being the chief minister of the state considers herself as the operator of the entire Bengal society, which hit hard the very nerves of radical Bengalis. Nepotism has reached to its highest level, the state ranked first in molestation and rape cases according to the report published by the National Crime Record Bureau, the chief minister herself forcibly snatched the convict directly from the police lock up at Bhowanipore, (at the heart of the capital city, Kolkata), - the list is too long to mention.

Such activities emboldened the TMC leaders at different parts of rural Bengal, who realised that terrorising people is the right weapon to hold seats for ever. That is why leaders like Anubroto Mondol, the Birbhum District President of TMC asked party supporters in a public rally to set the houses of opponents on fire, to hurl bombs at the police even the latter attempt to save the distressed, etc.

And after that, Mamata boldly and even surprisingly declared in another public meeting that Anubroto is a right organiser, a strong personality who works hard for the establishment of the party right from the grass root level. Monirul Islam, another party supporter proudly declared in another public meeting to shed the heads of the CPI (Marxist) supporters, if they would try to raise again.

Media shouted, intellectual class protested, but the administration failed to lodge even a F.I.R. When the Calcutta High Court intervened in this matter, the state government made best efforts to save Anubroto through government prosecutor. These are just few instances that Bengal has been realising every now and then.

After the TMC leadership had found none beside them and getting in a labyrinth of four-square fight in the Lok Sabha election, the party members finally chose the path of violence as the main axis to save the yardstick. And that it reflected too. Alas! Bengal and Bengalis. The state which fought against all oppressions since the days of British Raj, which never bowed to irrational thoughts, which hardly cared the red eyes of government even during the emergency, has now failed to move to the polling booths to cast their votes.

What the Election Commission alone can do while the state machinery completely works under the political hierarchy. In the last phase of election, the capital city of Bengal, Kolkata experienced the tremendous heat of political strife throughout the day. Pregnant ladies have even not been spared. They were kicked in broad daylight right at their wombs as they came out to cast their votes against the ruling party's terror. Such is the expression of jealousy; such is the revelation of hatred.

My question is of what hatred people of Bengal are turning so violent to each other in this way? Would it rightly bring any change to existing status or would it aggravate the present situation to get worse? When the other states are trying their best to develop inch by inch, my state West Bengal is drowning in killing-politics.

In this Lok Sabha elections, the same reflects with its full vigour. It is the people who suffer, it is the common mass who gets terrified, it is the development which faces prevention due to all these nonsense. Even I am quite surprised this time after finding Bihar and UP cool and calm during the election days. What would happen if someone has to vacate his seat and welcome the new to occupy the same?

Let them work who want to. This type of violence is not new to Bengal during election period. Earlier, it happened, this time it repeats. But my question is why the same tradition is continuing at same pace? Why there is no change in the overall mentality of people? When we can also expect a free and fair election without shedding a drop of blood? Probably the road is too long.

About the Author: Somak Sen is Assistant Professor, Faculty of Expressive Cultures, Media and Communication, Himgiri Zee University, Dehradun

Editorial NOTE: This article is categorized under Opinion Section. The views expressed in this article are solely those of the author and do not necessarily represent the views of In case you have a opposing view, please click here to share the same in the comments section.
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