West Bengal has been the state that runs on the crux of politics and violence. Where other states like Uttar Pradesh and Bihar’s political regime is defined on the terms of caste, religion and other social dividends, the Bengal politics is said not to even have a stake on these gruesome forms.
Partha Chatterjee writes “In [West] Bengal, the key term is ‘party’. It is indeed the elementary institution of rural life in the state – not family, not kinship, not caste, not religion, not market, but party. It is the institution that mediates every single sphere of social activity, with few exceptions, if any. This is indeed the true significance of the shift from the old days. Every other social institution, such as the landlord’s house, the caste council, the religious assembly, sectarian foundations, schools, sporting clubs, traders’ associations, and so on, have been eliminated, marginalized or subordinated to the ‘party’. Rural life is literally inconceivable without the party.”
As his words defines Bengal more than any Didi-o-Didi stammer, here’s how BJP continues inculcating the communal facet to the Bengal violence 2021.
Recently after the Trinamool Congress won the WB elections and Mamata Banerjee is about to govern the state for the third consecutive term, Bengal has been the most highlighted state and this time too for the erupting Bengal violence and conflicts. Aiming her predictable win with her plastered leg or gaining public sympathy encouraging women empowerment in the state or even siding the Muslim votes, she managed to win the Bengal 2021 elections gaining two-third seats announcing historical triumph. After Amit Shah’s void promises to win the state this time and beloved PM’s Didi-o-Didi remarks, BJP’s loss is mourned more than TMC’s victory across the country. Notwithstanding, BJP alike other collateral damage decides to create a communal buzz after they mismanaged their administrational attempts in the state.
After the West Bengal elections 2021, around 14 lives wrecked in the post-poll elections including the BJP and TMC members. The Bharatiya Janata Party has announced around nine of its members have been killed in two days while the TMC deaths sum up to four members, more deaths and violence is predicted by the state police and local authorities. With the leading chaos, there are morphed images and videos shared indicating raped women but it has been denied by Birbhum SP N N Tripathi.
The BJP has come forward announcing dharnas amidst the pandemic to transparent the conclusions of the violence thus demanding justice to the death of their party workers. Undoubtedly, the party believes that the blood lies in the hands of TMC workers. Reports of BJP workers houses been burned and torched by the TMC cadres have been seen. News18 Managing Editor Brajesh Kumar Singh shared information of a BSF jawans attacked and ransacked by TMC workers expressing concerns regarding the lives at stake in Bengal. Meanwhile, Mamata Banerjee’s party who also lost lives in the same violence has forwarded their words saying BJP is trying to escalate communal violence after losing polls in the state. Not only BJP, Congress and CPM also blamed TMC of the riots as Sitharam Yechury said the aggression will be ‘resisted and rebuffed’.
The entire scenario’s turbulence justifies the fact that the BJP members and their supporters are taking the political war to a communal war, posturing the regular Hindu-Muslim angle. Bollywood’s Queen Kangana Ranaut, the beautiful compulsive lady who strangely supports the India ruling party wrote “This is horrible…we need super gundai to kill gundai…she is like an unleashed monster, to tame her Modiji show your virat roop from early 2000s’ which lead to permanent suspension of her twitter account. Stalwarts like Swapan Dasgupta and Meenakashi Lekhi also tweeted the Hindu-Muslim card.
Is the post-election violence communal?
The now turned TMC state might face a threat of communal eruptions after the BJP improved its visibility in the state, Bengal has been much of a political violence ground than communal.
Monobina Gupta writes “There is 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 have changed through the decades. But violence was and continues to be integral to maintaining political control in the state.”
To obey her, the post-election violence is more common in Bengal and has always been, there’s lesser communalism but party perception. The violence occurred between the two parties BJP and TMC and both the parties have been suffering. It is non-neglectable to say it is between the parties and has no reference with religion. But as time sees, BJP might not hesitate to play the same cards as they do in other North Indian states.
Bengal and Its Overgrazing History of Political Violence
Even history bows to the fact that each and every political game in Bengal somewhere led to lives lost, people murdered and houses collapsed, so if we say the Bengal 2021 violence is new it’s absolutely absurd. The state is the ground for party politics, it’s just the change of triumph and dethroning of the players.
The polls and violence numbers might clash, this is what the Bengal election picture has always been. The All India data indicates 61 % offences in the 2009 West Bengal Lok Sabha elections and 2014 elections saw around 44% offences which included not just the party but common lives lost. Bengal is a party centric state which hinders the communal tensions but has its own consequences. While the common lives do not vanish respective of religion, the petty party politics demolishes the functioning. NCRB defines 2013 panchayat elections led to the death of 39 people, around 30 party members were killed in 2009 Lok Sabha elections and 2014 Lok Sabha elections saw 44% deaths. The state saw 693 cases of violence in the 2019 Lok Sabha polls.
There are various instances of political violence that erupted then in the now Mamata governed state. The stakes that were common among every other horrendous violence in Bengal was no religion but the changing political powers who intended to administer the Bengal governance. Whether it was the INC rule from 1972-1977, Left Front Rule (1977-2011) or the yet ruling TMC, they all had their shares of violence affecting the common lives of Bengal. The 1979 Marichjhanpi massacre, when Bengal was ruled by the CPI(M) leader Jyoti Basu, led to the starvation and killing of around 4128 families. The Left parties were also responsible for the Nandigram incident when 4000 police personals attacked Bengal’s village Nandigram forcibly stopping the protestors who opposed the establishment of SEZ. The incident resulted into more than 14 lives lost and more casualties.
The Tebhaga movement which was again organised by the communists of the Bengal Provincial Krishak Sabha resulted into arrest of tebhaga activists. The conflict between the landlords and peasants supported by the political parties namely the upper-caste landlords and peasant supporter INC and middle-class peasant supporter CPI(M) became the reason for a conflict that is written in Bengal’s history. Not to miss, the Bengal Femine, Food Crisis in the state, Naxalite movement and many such historic atrocities were a result of party politics in the state.
West Bengal since ages have followed the party-society rule and is still abetting the same. If the state has anything that affects livelihood of people to defining the societal terms of the state, it is called the party in power. Alike major incidents in the past, the recent Bengal violence is also a sum up of the party politics, both the parties are losing candidate and lives are lost each side. It has nothing to do with religion but the party players.
While BJP’s future planner Amit Shah still suspects it was the authoritarian Mamata Didi behind the violence, it is important for TMC to come clean of the communal card.
But the question is will Mamata maintain or change the party-society ethos of the state or BJP will further try to amend its ways into the Bengal? Whatever the future holds, for now Mamata Banerjee’s focus must adhere to pause the Bengal violence.
(The following article completely holds the writer’s personal views).