Tuesday, December 5, 2023

Will Democracy survive in Bengal?

By Lalit Garg

The violent and chaotic incidents of BJP’s national President Shri JP Nadda’s convoy in Bengal, protests and showing of black flags have not only seriously shocked India’s democratic values, but also shocked the general public. It cannot be endorsed in any way. In these years, the way mockery of democratic values has taken place in West Bengal, violence is resorted to, is a matter of grave concern. The rich and ideal democratic heritage of Bengal is to be tarnished. Politics free of violence is becoming a big challenge there.

Assembly elections are due in the first half of next year in West Bengal, the ruling Trinamool Congress government and the party supremo Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee fear that they might lose their power and control over Bengal, the deepening roots of BJP in Bengal is the reason for Mamata’s wrath in Bengal. The BJP has fought a long battle in Bengal. Its vote share was 4% in Bengal 9 years ago. In 2014, its seats reached 2 percent vote share out of 18. In 2019, its seats were 18 and the vote percentage reached 40. Now in the 2021 elections, the BJP is claiming the victory of nearly 200 seats. That is why Mamta and her party are attacking the BJP in various ways. All political parties are preparing for these elections on their own; the Bharatiya Janata Party has also begun their preparations. In this connection, National President Shri JP Nadda paid a visit to Bengal, when his convoy was attacked during which some other BJP leaders also suffered injuries during stone-pelting. Bengal is considered a politically very vigilant and culturally very prosperous state because this state has given the country great intellectuals whose revolutionary ideas have inspired the people of the whole country in the fight for freedom for this country. How can this great legacy in the twenty-first century be tainted for electoral victory at any level?

Ironically, on the instigation of Mamata, there is violence, chaos, unrest, intimidation, tragedy and horrific incidents of lawlessness, which has changed the standards of democratic values. The objectives of justice, law and order are now given new interpretation. In Bengal the character has come on the edge, powerlessness has come to the front. In the race to get a chair, responsibilities are not being distributed; the question of how to keep the soul of the state whose character becomes stable again has arisen. Who is accountable for their responsibilities in West Bengal today? Who is honest about policies? Who is committed to holding fair and transparent elections and keeping democratic values intact? The question is why the parties involved in the election, especially the ruling Trinamool Congress and Mamata, do not convince their workers that even the smallest incidents of violence not only weaken democracy but it is a stigma on the election process.

There is a dark shadow over the question of whether the upcoming assembly elections in West Bengal will be conducted in a peaceful, non-violent and fair manner, the extreme climax of despair and irresponsibility has brought the political process in a complicated phase. Let us not forget that, the day the process of creating leadership gets derailed from its principles and ideals, the prestige of the entire democracy will be at stake, the question of its destruction will arise. Democracy in West Bengal is stuck among thorny flags. Everyday the chaotic and undemocratic incidents there give the impression that if there is no trail between these thorns then the running of democracy will become difficult. Considering the multiplicity of violent incidents there, it can be said that political people cannot be expected to become great-souled, but if they come down to animalism, it is not right.

To create the destiny of West Bengal, the biggest need is to choose a leadership that is nothing else but non-violent, who values democratic values, and strengthens nationality. It is a matter of sorrow that the so-called leadership there has not stood the test of democratic values, is secondary and is pseudo, aggressive and selfish, stubborn and dictatorial. Such leadership should face a deep challenge in these upcoming assembly elections, which should become a lesson for them. It is generally accepted that the leadership is successful whose character is transparent. They should have the strength to take everyone along, developmental governance, which aims, relative thinking, policy of coordination and decisive capacity. In the face of adversities, they should have the courage to walk. However, in this current scenario this kind of leadership is lacking. In such a situation, one has to think whether this unexpected vacancy of leadership can be filled by BJP? Can we get rid of the dreaded and formidable crisis and dilemma facing West Bengal today?

The land of Bengal has been a fertile land of democratic values despite ideological diversity. In this, rivers from nationalist ideas to socialist and Marxist ideas have been flowing in such a way that the general public has been deciding its democratic path by taking stock of all these elemental qualities. In the late sixties the Naxalite movement started from this state which advocated the grabbing of political power through violent routes, but this movement also ended with the support of the people of this state and through the electoral path of parliamentary democracy. To solve public problems, the people here, under the leadership of the Marxist Party, gave the leftist parties the right to run for power for more than 34 years. During this leftist regime, the politics of thugism in the state was transformed into an institutional form and the present Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee’s Trinamool Congress Party was uprooted by public support.

Mamta Di’s rule has been going on in this state for the last ten years, which is now politically challenged by the BJP. To answer this challenge, the ruling party will only have to use democratic methods and the BJP itself will have to stay away from such elements that are desperate to take advantage of this situation and join the group of political opponents. But, the way the BJP workers have been suffering from violence for the past few months, there is a possibility that the ruling party workers may be held responsible for such incidents in the state. Only the state government can redress this doubt because law and order is its exclusive jurisdiction, but even the intervention of the Governor of the state in such cases cannot be said to be unnecessary.

The manner in which the Chief Secretary and the Chief of Police of West Bengal turned down the summons of the Union Home Ministry and refused to go to Delhi to meet the Home Secretary is not only arbitrary at the top level of the state administration, but also the democratic modalities. There is also utmost disrespect. This act of these two top officials of Bengal is going to damage the same federal system which Mamata Government promises to keep on expressing. It is the responsibility of Mamta Di not to allow political violence to happen in any way and for this the state police administration should always be careful. Though the Union Ministry has ordered an inquiry into the attack on Mr. Nadda and has started their work as well, but we have to take cognizance of similar past incidents and see what the investigations in them concluded on. With this, the police will have to play their role completely as anarchic and go to the roots of the problem.

(Lalit Garg is a Journalist, columnist, writer and member of Rajbhasa samiti, Ministry of Home Affairs. The views expressed are personal opinion of the author. He can be reached at [email protected])



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