The marred civic polls

Seven civic bodies in the State went to polls on Sunday – four in the hills and three in the plains. While voting in the hills went off peacefully, that in the plains was marred by violence. Bombs were used freely, activists of the parties were seen strutting about with firearms, poll staff were seen hiding themselves in the bathroom and the police were found to be playing a totally passive role, which actually amounted to helping the ruling party. Both sides resorted to violence, but the ruling party’s men did it more nonchalantly, as if knowing that the arms of the law would not reach them.
The people of West Bengal are familiar with poll violence. During the Left Front rule almost every election saw violence in which the Opposition parties were targeted.  They voted for a change and the TMC also said it was for a change, not retaliation. Its slogan was badla noy, badal chai (We do not want retaliation but a change).  But soon the people found it was a mere slogan like most slogans given by political parties promising a change to win elections. Still the personal charisma of Mamata Banerjee has helped the Trinamool to win elections. But things are changing. With the gradual marginalization of the CPM and the Congress in the State politics, the BJP is coming up fast to fill the void with its divisive politics on communal lines.
The situation is such that cadres in the lower levels of the CPM and the Congress are leaving and joining the BJP. In spite of this, both parties consider the TMC to be their main enemy, not the BJP. On her part, Mamata Banerjee is repeating her calls to build a united front against the BJP. Though some sections of the leadership of the CPM do not seem to be averse to forging such anti-communal unity, the West Bengal unit of the party is dead opposed to it. If the CPM and the Congress had looked upon the BJP and not the TMC their main adversary in West Bengal, they would have joined hands with the TMC in resisting the BJP unitedly. That has not happened. It is likely enough that when the results are declared, it will be found that the BJP has emerged as the main opposition to the TMC. It will be a development that will go against both TMC and the Left and the Congress. That will be a tragedy.

Thursday, 18 May, 2017