West Bengal has been prone to political violence for nearly 50 years. Power struggles in the state have always been marked by bloodshed. The current violence in West Bengal is battle of power between the ruling party TMC and the newbie BJP. The TMC fought a long and fierce battle with the Left front and came to power in 2011 in the state. In the recently concluded Lok Sabha elections, the BJP made inroads in the bastion of the TMC and won 18 seats out of total 42 seats in the state. It is a setback to the TMC, whose tally fell from 34 in 2014 to 22 seats. Therefore, it can be said that the violence in West Bengal is sustained by its history.
Governor Keshari Nath Tripathi on Monday met Prime Minister Narendra Modi and Home Minister Amit Shah. He apprised them about the ongoing violence in West Bengal. In post-poll political violence over one dozen people have been killed and several others injured in Bengal. It was apprehended that Keshari Nath Tripathi might recommend President’s rule in the state due to unabated violence. But he said that there was no such discussion during the meetings with PM Modi and Union Home Minister.
In contrary to initial indication, Keshari Nath Tripathi said that it is not demanding President’s rule in Bengal. The party said that it will defy the Mamata Banerjee government’s ban on its political programmes and victory processions. BJP general secretary Kailash Vijayvargiya said that the ruling TMC took out victory marches in seats where it won in the Lok Sabha polls. The state government prohibited the BJP from doing so by imposing Section 144 of CrPC. Vijayvargiya said, “We want to exercise our democratic rights but the state government has used its powers to target our leaders and workers. We will defy its clampdown on us. It is our right. The BJP has announced a protest in the state on June 12 against the killings of its workers, allegedly by people linked to the Trinamool Congress.” Vijarvargiya alleged that CM Mamata Banerjee and her nephew Lok Sabha member Abhishek Banerjee duo are behind the TMC workers targeting those associated with the BJP.
On the other hand, Mamata Banerjee accused the BJP of provoking violence after clashes killed three BJP workers and one Trinamool Congress (TMC) worker on Saturday. Further clashes followed on Sunday when police allegedly stopped BJP workers from taking away the bodies of the slain party workers. , Mamata Banerjee said, “The BJP is trying to spread unrest in Bengal and is planning to provoke riots. They are spreading fake news on social media. Bengal is not Gujarat. Since I am the only one who is exposing their dangerous game plan, they have started to send advisories. The BJP is trying to sell democracy.” CM Mamata Banerjee was responding to a home ministry statement issued on Sunday that said, “The unabated violence over the past weeks appears to be a failure on the part of the law enforcement machinery of the state to maintain the rule of law and inspire confidence among people.”
Pratap Banerjee, BJP general secretary (Kolkata), said, “The TMC has been trying to subvert democracy in the state. Our protest will continue. The people are defecting from TMC to BJP and she is now on a self-destruct path, where she herself is snuffing out her party’s chances in the 2021 elections.” The state unit of the BJP has set the wheels in motion to prepare for the assembly elections. Buoyed by its recent success in the Lok Sabha polls, the state leadership has also reached out to the central leadership to tackle not just the violence in Bengal, but also the strategy for the forthcoming polls.
Pratap Banerjee said, “The TMC has lost control of its own agitators. She has arbitrarily arrested people. The people are also seeing that BJP is the only alternative. The central leadership is also being kept in the loop. And, if things keep going on like this in the state and elections are declared, then the BJP will definitely emerge as the winner.”
According to political experts TMC supremo, Mamata Banerjee’s actions are harming her. Sabyasachi Dasgupta, professor of history at Vishva-Bharati University, said, “Mamata Banerjee needs to project a face of humility among the public and accept responsibility for the poll debacle. It will be very tough for her in 2021 if she carries on like this,”
It is remarkable that three supporters of the BJP and another from the TMC had been killed in fresh violence on Saturday and at least 18 others were wounded. West Bengal has been on edge since Prime Minister Narendra Modi led the BJP launched an aggressive campaign to win the parliamentary seats last year. Local BJP leader Mukul Roy tweeted three BJP workers were shot dead in Sandeshkhali, West Bengal. BJP’s general secretary in the state, Sayantan Basu said, “The clashes broke out over the hoisting of BJP flags and the putting up of posters. They tried to throw away our party flags and posters and when we protested, our workers were shot from point-blank range.” On the other hand, state’s Minister Jyotipriyo Mullick, who belongs to the Trinamool Congress, said, “One of the party supporters was hacked and shot dead by BJP workers. He said, “When he was on his way to attend a party meeting, he was hacked at first. When he managed to free himself, he was shot dead.”
The BJP won 303 seats in the national parliament, increasing its previous tally of 282 seats in 2014. The party is going to give a very tough fight in ensuing assembly elections in the state in 2021. The Trinamool Congress, which has its stronghold in West Bengal and is led by the firebrand Mamata Banerjee has repeatedly accused the BJP of fomenting trouble in the state. West Bengal has witnessed some of the most violent feuds between rival parties. Last month, a BJP supporter was shot dead in state capital Kolkata and a car belonging to a Trinamool member was pelted with rocks. Last year, a BJP worker was killed and his body was hanged from a tree. Prime Minister Modi had called the killings “shameful and anti-democratic”.