Democracy is a Dead Word in Bengal

The single phase panchayat elections in West Bengal today have seen large scale violence by TMC across the state. While incidents are being reported from almost every district; North 24 Parganas, South 24 Parganas, Coochbehar and Burdwan saw maximum incidents of violence.  As per the information received by the time of writing this report 12 people have been killed and 24 have been injured in the poll violence.

 

The panchayat elections right from the nomination stage saw large scale violence by TMC goons (with full support of state machinery) ensuring that as high as 34% of the seats have been won by TMC uncontested. The Calcutta High Court in its judgment had ruled that “the state’s officials and the Election Commission will be personally responsible for security. They will have to pay compensation if the loss of life and property exceeded the figures of the 2013 panchayat elections.” (Though it is quite ironical that even the judiciary is taking for granted the violence by the ruling party and instead of a stern position on any kind of violence it too fixed up a threshold level which can be tolerated). The 1.5 Lakh security personnel manning the security during the polls are largely from the state government (with only 2000 from outside) and this has meant that in almost every case of violence they are either being a mute spectator or playing the role of TMC’s lackey.

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Sitaram Yechury, General Secretary of CPI (M) has said that “Murder and mayhem in West Bengal, TMC goons are on the rampage. This will be fought back. CPI (M), alongside people will restore democracy & normalcy. The Election Commission of West Bengal must act to restore faith in the process. Else it will be seen as complicit in TMC’s project of destroying democracy. Allowing TMC to get away with throttling democracy has implications well beyond West Bengal.”

Not just Left activists, government employees working as polling agents and presiding officers are also under attack.

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A youth, Taibur Gayen, was killed and two others injured when crude bombs were hurled at them  by ruling party supporters at Amdanga in North 24 Parganas district.

CPI(M) activists Comrade Apu Manna and Comrade Jagyeshwar Ghosh killed by TMC terror in Nandigram. 

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Violence was reported from Keshpur of West Midnapore district too. In Bikalchak of Keshpur in West Midnapore district, a teenage girl was hit by an arrow and had to be taken to hospital.

A man was seen pouring water in a ballot box in a booth of Patharghata in Rajarhat.

Five local journalists injured after violence, following booth capturing in Birpara,  by TMC workers.

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In Jalpaiguri, ballot boxes containing ballot papers were set on fire. Poll officials said voting has been stopped in the booth in Shikarpur.

In Pashkura of East Midnapore, a masked youth holding a pistol in the air was seen moving around inside a booth even as an armed policeman stayed put.

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The strong arm tactics of TMC is being resisted by people across the state. In fact this resistance has taken the supreme sacrifice of life at many places. However, one thing is for certain, if violence has become the order of the day, then so has resistance. The class aspect of this phenomenon is something which should not be ignored. The lumpen elements propped up by the development model pursued by the Mamta’s regime are today playing the role of foot soldiers of both TMC and BJP. In fact, a struggle for supremacy among these lumpen sections is going on between TMC and BJP. The evolution of this struggle between these two ruling class’ parties will play a major role in deciding the evolution of political situation in Bengal. On the other hand we find small peasants and agricultural labourers not only facing the brunt of violence but also at the forefront of resistance against it. Far from obliterating the class contradictions, as many would like to believe, the current rampage of democracy has actually sharpened the class contradictions sharper than ever.

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Have a look at few examples. In Shantipur, Nadia, a MA pass youth was lynched by voters when he attempted to capture a booth for the TMC. What is being done that educated, unemployed youth too are joining the ranks of lumpens who are being purchased by the election managers to become pawns in this game of political violence. Similarly, in another incident, 13 motorcycles were burnt and one person was killed when the TMC goons tried to capture booths. In Bagda of North 24 Parganas district, nine goons were caught by villagers stamping ballot papers in a booth and beaten up, before being handed over to police and sent to hospital. Villagers told that when confronted, the criminals tried to flee by hurling crude bombs.

Surjya Kanta Mishra rightly called to advance from the spontaneous acts of resistance and move towards ‘an organized, mass resistance armed with scientific theory with revolutionary practice.’

 

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