West Bengal has stood out as a sore thumb in this election season with increasing levels of violence as each phase went to the polls. And violence seemed to have touched a new high on May 14 when BJP president Amit Shah conducted a road show in Kolkata.
Earlier Shah and other BJP leaders denied permission for holding rally. Then, posters and banners of BJP leaders were seen being pulled down and packed off in municipality trucks ahead of the road show.
Alleged TMC supporters pelted stones on the convoy of Shah from inside the hostel of Vidyasagar College, triggering a clash with BJP supporters. Pitched battles erupted on the streets of Kolkata, and the BJP president was forced to cut short the road show. He was escorted to safety by police (central forces, Shah said).
Responding to the turn of events, Union Finance Minister Arun Jaitley wondered “Has Bengal acquired a Government of Gangsters?” For outsiders these words seem an accurate description.
When the Election Commission announced (EC) 7-phase polling in the state, chief minister Mamata Banerjee had questioned the wisdom of EC. Now reports of intimidation, murder, grenade attacks, booth capturing, and so on, reportedly by the cadres of the ruling party, Trinamool Congress (TMC) in every single phase must have justified the decision.
Still, the EC may find difficulty claiming to have conducted a “free and fair” election in the state where intimidation of voters, violent attack on vehicles of non-TMC candidates and leaders, etc., have become a norm. At least 18 BJP workers and 1 TMC have been reportedly killed so far in poll-related violence in the state. It is said 11 BJP workers have been arrested but none from TMC is booked.
According to reports, there were 55 violent incidents during 6th phase alone. However, only 9 FIR have been filed.
Mamata Banerjee, who claims to be striving to “save democracy” from Narendra Modi and Amit Shah, is emerging incredibly dangerous to democracy. She openly claims she doesn’t accept an elected prime minister as “her” prime minister. Instead she calls Narendra Modi a goon. She wants to send him a mud rasgullas with stones inside so that they can break his teeth.
The chief minister calls central forces deployed in her state as RSS and BJP men, who have come to her state wearing uniform. (And she has written to the EC to withdraw the forces).
Her government arrests a young woman for sharing a meme on her and then fails to follow Supreme Court order. While Mamata Banerjee seems to be increasingly appearing as law unto herself, can she claim to be a saviour of democracy?