Recurrence of violence in rural Bengal

West Bengal saw a spate of violence during the panchayat elections in May. Now, at the time of forming the boards, violence has broken out again. Three persons have been killed. Home-made crude bombs were used freely. The police have recovered over two hundred unexploded bombs, at Amdanga near Barasat in the North 24-Parganas district. The CPM and the TMC fought pitched battles. The intensity of the attack by supporters of the down and out CPM has apparently taken the ruling TMC by surprise. Complaints have been made that sophisticated firearms suspected to have been smuggled from across the border have been used. Obviously, the police had no advance intelligence that preparation for such a clash had been made and a huge quantity of bombs stored. It is a clear failure of the Intelligence and the local administration. The officer-in-charge of Amdanga police station has been transferred after all that has happened.
The blame game has already started. The bitterness and enmity caused by these clashes and the consequent deaths will linger on in the villages even after the board formation at different levels is over. Therein lay the seeds of future clashes. As far as electoral violence is concerned there is no change in the situation from the days of the CPI-M rule. The situation has further deteriorated by the armed clashes between rival groups of the TMC. In fact she had to remove the president of Trinamool Chhatra Parishad Jaya Duuta from her post.  Her successor is yet to be named.
Mamata Banerjee is still the most popular leader of the State. Other opposition parties in the State are practically without a leader worth the name. But she cannot take her popularity for granted. If the image of her party continues to lose its lustre, her personal image or charisma will not take her beyond a point. Then the reverse tide will begin as happened towards the end of Jyoti Basu’s rule. His successor hastened the process which culminated in the loss of power and the marginalization of the CPM in the State – a process that still continues. If group rivalries and group clashes continue in the TMC, the only beneficiary will be the BJP which is already emerging as the main opposition to the TMC. Time is running out for Mamata to discipline her party.

Thursday, 30 August, 2018