Clashes over panchayat polls

After the State Election Commission announced that the panchayat polls in West Bengal would be held on May 1, 3 and 5, candidates of different political parties are rushing to file their nomination papers. This has set off clashes between the supporters and workers of the parties. The accusing finger is almost always being pointed at the ruling Trinamool Congress. The supporters of the ruling party in West Bengal are accused of physically preventing or trying to prevent others from filing their nominations. Prospective candidates and their supporters are being assault and chased away. The TMC is routinely denying the charge but video pictures of the clashes being telecast by news channels leave little doubt that it is the TMC which is taking the aggressive role. The CPI-M and the Congress are on decline in West Bengal. The BJP is coming up as the main opposition party. Naturally, their men are being targeted principally. The State leaders of the party seem determined to give back as good as they get. They are openly talking of retaliation and giving blow for blow.
The behaviour of the TMC is hard to explain. It is the strongest political party in West Bengal and is set to sweep the polls. The opposition parties are in no position to challenge the TMC anywhere. Why should then the TMC resort to violence? Why should they choose to follow in the footsteps of their predecessors, the CPI-M?  During its three and half decades rule, the CPI-M did the same thing, took to the same tactics. They tried to terrorize the candidates and workers of the opposition parties. Initially it was successful. But toward the end of the Left rule, the scenario started changing rapidly. Terrorized people shook off their fear, organized themselves with determination and ultimately overthrew the tyranny of CPI-M. Today, the party is on a downhill journey.
The fate of the CPI-M is still fresh in public memory, Why should the TMC and its supremo, who came to power with an immense fund of goodwill, tread the CPI-M path, knowing full well that in the long run the consequence will be no different from what befell the CPI-M? A political party resorts to violence only when it feels it is being isolated from the masses, when its support base is eroding and when free and fair poll will bring their defeat. As of today, the TMC enjoys the support of the majority of the electorate and is sure to win the panchayat polls comfortably. Resort to violence will be self-defeating and counter-productive.

Wednesday, 11 April, 2018