Mamata Banerjee has considered West Bengal to be a TMC bastion ever since she broke the 34 years of CPI(M) regime. Since the past 8 years, she has ruled the state with an iron fist, crushing any kind of opposition to her government and even restricting a person’s fundamental rights, including censoring movies which threaten to show the true face of her rule. The angst of the West Bengal citizens over this tyranny has been growing and has gathered momentum this election season, ever since they saw BJP as a refreshing change from the oppressive government that the state of West Bengal has now become synonymous to. In response to BJP’s growing popularity, Mamata Banerjee led TMC has been indulging in political violence which has been responded to, by the EC, when it ordered election campaigning to be cut short in West Bengal.
Last year’s Panchayat elections, wherein opposition candidates weren’t even allowed to file their nominations in 34% of the seats have opened people’s eyes to the gross injustice and failure of democracy in the state. Those elections saw massive political violence at the hands of the Mamata Banerjee government. Though TMC won the Panchayat elections, with BJP coming second; they were very crucial as they alerted the centre, the opposition and the people as to the extent of atrocities in the state. In this regard, the centre and the EC had sought to ensure free and fair elections this time around, given their insistence in having 7 phases in the state with maximum possible security arrangements through the highest ever deployment of CRPF personnel and appointment of a Special Observer for the state.
With the left completely removed from the state, the main opposition to the TMC government had been BJP, whose hold is only increasing in the state. The reign of terror and the situation of lawlessness prevailing in the state of West Bengal is known to all the citizens now and like any prudent individual, they want a change. The state is supposed to be responsible for the subjects, and instead of that, the West Bengal state at the hands of Mamata Banerjee is simply tormenting the subjects. According to the report of the Special Observer, Senior TMC leaders have uttered comments on the lines of “central forces will leave at the end of elections, while we will remain,” sending a chilling message to the officers as well as to the voters.
Despite the threat of violence, the Bengali voters have embraced BJP in the state and are publicly supporting the party. According to the people, BJP has the strength to take on TMC and can protect their voices. Mamata Banerjee is well aware of BJP’s rising popularity in the state and is clearly perturbed. In order to stop the people from freely choosing BJP, the West Bengal election phases have been fraught with incidents of booth capture, smashing of electronic voting machines (EVM), intimidation of voters and malfunctioning of EVMs. She has been trying hard to stop BJP from campaigning in the state, given that she had denied BJP’s rath yatra in the state. However, when her tactics turned out to be as futile as her governance in the state, in the final phases of the elections, she is indulging in rampant political violence. The last 3 days have been extremely chaotic in the state, with rampant violence, arbitrary arrests, curtailing of freedom of speech and even defacing the statue of Ishwar Chandra Vidyasagar- Bengal’s icons; all to stop the inevitable departure of the Mamata Banerjee government.
It all started from an incident of denial of fundamental rights, wherein BJP youth wing leader Priyanka Sharma was arrested following a criminal complaint filed against her by a local TMC leader because she shared a meme about Mamata Banerjee on Facebook. The Supreme Court, being independent of Mamata Banerjee’s clutches, thankfully granted bail but it doesn’t change the blatant disregard of Sharma’s fundamental rights. Journalists and caricaturists draw cartoons of leaders all the time, a part and parcel of the wide freedom to speech and expression guaranteed by the constitution. Mamata Banerjee, however, considers herself above the constitution and is curtailing the basic rights of an individual, destroying the democracy in the country.
Moving on from booth capturing and denial of fundamental rights, TMC workers created havoc during BJP President Amit Shah’s rally in Kolkata on Tuesday. Amit Shah was conducting a roadshow in Kolkata, when the event witnessed violence as his convoy was attacked with stones and arson by TMC supporters, triggering a clash between supporters of the two parties. Amit Shah stated that the West Bengal Police did not do anything to ensure the safety of BJP workers. Such was the level of discourse that Amit Shah stated that if CRPF was not there, he could not have survived the violence. Not only this, during the violence, a statue of Ishwarchandra Bandyopadhyay was also vandalized who is a symbol of social reform not only West Bengal but in the whole country.
All this has just been indicative of Mamata Banerjee’s fear, and her desperation was only reinforced after seeing Amit Shah ’s massive popularity in her supposed ‘bastion’. In light of this, EC has had to take an unprecedented step, by invoking article 324 of the constitution, effectively cancelling all the campaigning in the state, a day before its scheduled deadline. The EC issued an 8-page order which underlined the state of lawlessness and violence in West Bengal, being a hindrance to free and fair elections. It read, “there is distinct resistance and non-cooperation from the district administration and district police when it comes to providing level playing field to all candidates for campaigning and in providing a fearless and free environment to the voters.” Now, instead of ending on Friday, 18th of May, 2018; the campaigning in West Bengal will now end on Thursday, 17th of May, 2018.
It is pertinent to note that the cancellation applies to all parties equally so while BJP is quietly accepting EC’s decision, Mamata Banerjee has lashed out stating, “There is no such law and order problem in West Bengal that Article 324 can be clamped” and resorted to making distasteful comments on the Prime Minister and BJP.
West Bengal is the only state which has been witnessing political violence since the beginning of the elections and that happens to be the only state with a TMC stronghold. The rest of the country is undergoing peaceful polling. The EC’s mandate has been a welcome move, acknowledging the gross violation of fundamental rights under Mamata Banerjee’s oppressive regime and also acts as a deterrent to future attempts at illegalities during the election time.
Mamata Banerjee led TMC was already on a path of destruction but the response to Amit Shah ‘s massive rallies and road shows finally made the party realize that they are losing ground, the reality of the situation finally dawned upon them. Unable to cope up with the fall of their regime, like every tyrant in history, Mamata led TMC unleashed a reign of terror in the state. The popularity of Amit Shah and timing of the rallies, finally broke even the illusion of normalcy and brought out the worst of Mamata Banerjee led TMC’s tyrannies.