The nation has witnessed a largely peaceful voting for Lok Sabha polls until the 4th phase on April 29. In this phase, large-scale clashes and violence have been reported from West Bengal. This raises a pertinent question as to why West Bengal is failing to ensure polling without violence when the other states have seen an almost peaceful election? The answer perhaps lies in the attitude of the West Bengal Chief Minister, who seems to be nurturing the dream of prime ministership, but has chosen to go the authoritarian way instead of the democratic way, particularly during elections. This is not the first time that West Bengal under the rule of Mamata Banerjee is reporting poll violence. When Panchayat polls took place in the state back in May 2018, at least 13 persons were killed in poll-related violence.
Almost all the poll-related violence has the reported involvement of Mamata Banerjee’s Trinamool Congress party. The stark irony in this whole episode is that, Mamata Banerjee who should be held responsible for the violent behavior of her party workers, is seen abusing Prime Minister Modi as ‘fascist’ and ‘despotic’, while failing to ensure law and order.
Poll-related Violence Under Mamata - Is This a Democratic Model?
Just like the out-on-bail Rahul Gandhi calls Prime Minister Narendra Modi ‘chor’ without any evidence, Mamata Banerjee is arguing that PM Modi’s re-election is detrimental to democracy. But in reality, it is the rule of Mamata Banerjee which is throwing all the democratic values to the wind, since holding a free and fair election in West Bengal has become such an uphill task for the Election Commission. Here is the history of poll violence under Mamata that has been reflected in the media headlines, both in the ongoing Lok Sabha polls and in previous instances.
Such was the ‘casual’ reaction from the Trinamool when asked on poll violence in these elections as depicted in the above Hindustan Times screenshot. People may decide who is dangerous to democracy based on such remarks.
There are reports about wide spread rigging pointing fingers towards TMC workers. A report in the Anand Bazar Patrika says that TMC workers had threatened and even beaten up some members of the public in order to secure votes in their favour. The TMC workers even went to the extent of applying perfume on the EVM machine (on TMC’s button) in order to verify if the voters had voted for the party by the smell on the fingers of the people who came out after voting.
In particular, the Opposition BJP has been at the receiving end of TMC’s violence. So while the elections are taking place, the following screenshot shows how BJP in the state is suffering at the hands of the ruling TMC.
Media Silence over Mamata?
While the violence in the West Bengal did find place in media reports, it seems that the media has largely refrained from posing questions to West Bengal Chief Minister. For instance, if you watch this NDTV interview with Mamata Banerjee, where she abuses PM Modi as a fascist, not a single counter question has been asked of her as to why she has an issue with Central forces discharging poll duty, why she can’t be held responsible for the political violence in her state, and on the role of her party workers in the political violence.
Whatever may be the outcome of these elections in West Bengal, no well-meaning individual of the country can stay away from the debate as to how the democracy has been under threat under Mamata Banerjee’s rule in West Bengal. In fact, this is not just limited to polls. You may read about the other despotic tendencies of Mamata Banerjee in our previous article Why Mamata Banerjee Appears to be the Real Dictator.