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As the combat for political house will get brutal in West Bengal, a have a look at its violent previous

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It didn’t begin in 2019 — as claimed by the BJP. Nor did it begin in 2016 — the 12 months TMC claims BJP went after its employees. Political violence in Bengal has an extended and welted previous.

The Congress began it and the Left mastered it. The TMC opposed it tooth and nail to win votes, solely to finish up perpetrating it. In its 2021 Mission for Bengal, can the BJP be far behind in following this gory course?

Last month, BJP president JP Nadda’s convoy was attacked allegedly by TMC goons. Stone-pelting and open combat adopted quickly after. While it made nationwide headlines, Bengalis would have slotted it beneath routine pre-election skirmish. For, Bengal’s encounter with violence runs deep. It has seen worse days.

As the state is within the first flush of campaigning for the 2021 meeting polls, the combat is getting tense, particularly between the ruling TMC and a charged-up BJP, which is leaving no stone unturned to topple Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee.

BJP has been sharpening its assault on TMC from the 2019 Lok Sabha polls onwards. “I would not have escaped unhurt without CRPF protection when my convoy was attacked in Kolkata by TMC,” stated Amit Shah on May 15, 2019, referring to an assault on his highway present through the Lok Sabha marketing campaign.

Claims and counter-claims fly thick and quick. BJP claims 137 of its occasion employees have been killed within the state for the reason that 2019 polls through which it received 18 of 42 seats. TMC says the lack of lives is bigger on its aspect, calling BJP’s numbers fabricated. “137 is an absurd number. They even include cases of suicide,” alleges TMC MP Saugata Roy. BJP retorts in the identical vein. “Did we kill our own men? When TMC goons kill our members mercilessly, should we sit on our hands?” asks state BJP president Dilip Ghosh.

BJP believes it stands to realize electorally by calling Didi and her occasion the perpetrators of violence. But violence is as previous because the state itself. Muscle energy, intimidation and bloodshed have been the instruments of events to guard their turf, intimidate opponents and silence dissent.

“There is a wrong perception that violence has hit the political landscape of Bengal recently. It has always been the means of establishing political control. The nature of violence may have changed through the decades. But violence was and continues to be integral to maintaining political control in the state”

— Monobina Gupta, Author of Left Politics in Bengal and Didi: A Political Biography

Agrees Samir Kumar Das, professor of political science, University of Kolkata: “There was more violence earlier, but it was more one-sided as any voice of dissent was silenced with brutal force.”

Violent rebellion in pre-independent India differs from the latest clashes and bloodshed by political events, however the soil of Bengal has all the time been soaked in blood.

During the 20-year rule of the Congress until 1967, there have been violent actions and demonstrations by each the ruling occasion and the opposition Left. Then the Naxalbari motion, led by Charu Mazumdar, gripped the state. Following his name — “He who has not dipped his hands in the blood of the class enemy is not worthy of being called a communist” — clashes, bombings and killings turned par for the course in Bengal.

After the tumultuous interval of 1967-72, which noticed three elections, 4 coalition governments and three intervals of president’s rule, marred by many incidents of political violence, got here the “brutal” period of Siddhartha Shankar Ray of the Congress. The 1972 election, held beneath president’s rule, was allegedly massively rigged. It reinstated the Congress, beneath the brand new management of Ray, who was pulled into the job by Indira Gandhi herself. What adopted was the ruthless elimination of Naxals, with the Left pressured to go underground. The barbaric killing of pro-Congress Sain brothers in 1970 by CPM supporters in entrance of their mom who was allegedly pressured to eat rice soaked of their blood stays one of many darkest chapters in Bengal’s historical past.

Since the 1970s, political murders, violence and killing of opponents have wracked the state, particularly in rural areas. Many political observers really feel the latest rise in political murders for the reason that 2018 panchayat polls mirrors the violence that gripped the state within the 1970s.

The Left, led by the CPM, got here to energy in 1977 and dominated for 34 years. The Left introduced hope and a few aid. The preliminary years noticed welfare measures resembling Operation Barga that gave authorized safety to sharecroppers in opposition to eviction by landlords and entitled them to a due share of the produce. Simultaneously, there emerged a piece who didn’t profit from authorities dole. The society was strongly divided alongside occasion traces. Those who have been affiliated to the ruling occasion received precedence. Then in 1979, the Marichjhapi crackdown passed off. The eviction of Namasudra refugees from Dandakaranya delivered to the fore the aggressive methods of CPM. The occasion quickly had unquestionable sway over the plenty.

“What was most unfortunate about the Left rule was that after the 1991 reforms, it was either criticising reforms or doing lip service. They could not effectively engage with these reforms for the larger benefit of the masses”

— Samir Kumar Das, Professor, Political Science, University of Kolkata

A interval of uneasy silence was truncated by the formation of the TMC in 1998 which, in alliance with the BJP, questioned the methods and technique of the Left. TMC’s rise noticed a spurt in political violence in lots of elements of Bengal. CPM would begin shedding its unquestionable dominance in lots of rural areas to TMC. Soon whole CPM networks would shift to TMC, lending it the cadre and muscle energy it lacked in lots of areas.

It was the violent confrontations at Singur and Nandigram in 2006-08 that catapulted Banerjee to energy. The Left paid dearly for the police firing in Singur. Didi stormed to energy with an enormous mandate in 2011.

“When the TMC came to power, initially there were some skirmishes, but Didi was soon able to control the situation,” says Roy of TMC. Political observers suppose in any other case. “Initially she talked about badlaav (change) not badla (revenge), but she could not keep her words,” says Das. Didi who got here with the promise of ‘poriborton’ had a change of coronary heart herself. “As regimes changed and new ideologies came up, political violence was either justified or opposed through new and more violent ways. After five decades of political violence, there was a lot of hope about Mamata. Sadly, instead of focussing on cadre-building, she depended on local strongmen — mostly CPM turncoats — who again resorted to violence,” provides Das.

The tradition of violence continued uninterrupted. In a manner, TMC has now come full circle. Formed as a breakaway faction of the Congress in 1998, it had joined palms with the BJP to problem the Left. It is now beneath risk from its former NDA accomplice itself.

The BJP desires to deal with the right here and the now of Bengal’s historical past of violence for quick beneficial properties. “TMC is trying to psychologically harm our workers with their brutal ways. Bodies are being hanged from trees and left there for an entire day. The body of our MLA from Hemtabad, Debendra Nath Roy, was found hanging in the middle of a bazaar,” says occasion spokesperson Kabir Shankar Bose.

Amit Shah launched BJP’s Aar Noi Annay (No More Injustice) marketing campaign in West Bengal to make this an electoral problem.

TMC counters this narrative. Roy says BJP is amplifying stray incidents to color an image of large-scale violence within the state for political beneficial properties. “Why do such (violent) incidents happen when Shah and Nadda are in Bengal? It’s because they instigate such incidents for political mileage,” says Kalyan Banerjee, TMC MP from Serampore. Describing TMC’s acts when it comes to “every action has an equal and opposite reaction,” Banerjee says the occasion is just being “defensive”. “To top it all, the governor has become servile to BJP,” he provides. Many within the occasion dismiss TMC’s function within the latest incidents of violence. “The entire fight is between new BJP and old BJP. We have no time to fight, especially when elections are so close,” says occasion MP from Arambagh Afrin Ali aka Aparupa Poddar. Many specialists suppose the BJP is not only anticipating violence within the 2021 meeting polls, but additionally stoking it.

“Bengal has had a violent history of political violence that has been perpetrated by the ruling party. Just when there was some semblance of normalcy, BJP is trying to foment trouble for political gains. I see a lot of bloodshed as we inch closer to elections. It’s our duty to expose the violent ways of Didi but BJP is a greater menace”

— Abhijit Mazumdar, Darjeeling district President, CPI (ML) Liberation

The continuation of violence is the brutal reality of Bengal politics. BJP’s entry has solely raised the pitch.


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