Victory at the cost of Democracy

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Image: India Today

With peaceful polling and minimum chaos in almost all the states, the general elections are now at its peak with the results to be announced in a week. Talking about peaceful polling, that eastern state of West Bengal has been a complete exception. With its polling in all the seven phases of the election and with six phases completed already, almost all the phases ended with little or heavy chaos. The rivalry of the two political parties, Bhartiya Janta Party (BJP) and Trinamul Congress (TMC) has mainly been the reason of all the chaos. On 18 th of April, during the second phase polling, CPM candidate Md Salim was attacked in West Bengal’s Islampur which falls under Raiganj constituency and had reportedly alleged the TMC for the attack. The TMC workers were also accused for capturing the booth at Raiganj Coronation High School. A reporter and a cameraperson of a local news channel were manhandled while covering the polling at Kataphulbari of the Raiganj constituency. Voters of Uttar Dinajpur made complaints regarding some anti-social elements blocking their way to the polling booth and snatching their voting documents along with demanding deployment of central forces in their areas as they had no confidence in the local police. Democracy may be defined in different ways by different people but this definitely isn’t one of them.

On 23 rd April, during the third phase voting in West Bengal, the Congress alleged that their agent in Khargram Jangipur was beaten up and thrown out of the booth. On this same day, the TMC had also alleged the congress workers for capturing a booth in Lochanpur of Murshidabad leading to the clashes between both the parties. Above all this, the heights of the violence were proved when a local, Pyarul Abul Kalam who was standing in a queue for the polling at a booth in Baligram of Murshidabad was killed during the clashes between Congress and TMC workers there. An unidentified man had also hurled a bomb near polling booth number 27 and 28 in Murshidabad’s Raninagar area as per the reports by ANI. Along with this, Babulal Murmu, a polling officer was found hanging inside his house in South Dinajpur and as alleged by his wife, he seemed to have committed suicide under pressure. Is this how the state is celebrating the largest festival of democracy?

On 29 th April, the fourth phase of elections also observed the similar trend of violence including clashes between BJP, TMC and Congress workers over booth capturing and rigging. The clashes required immediate intimidation of the CRPF personnel deployed there. A case was registered against BJP’s MP from Asansol, Babul Supriyo for entering the polling booth with his security personnel and manhandling a security guard there. On the other side, Babul Supriyo has alleged mass rigging across voting booths in Jamuria and Raniganj. On 6 th of May, during the fifth phase, Arjun Singh, BJP candidate from Barrackpore alleged the TMC workers for attacking and injuring him and scaring away his voters. BJP candidate Locket Chaterjee’s car was also vandalised in Shiva-Chandi of Hooghly. LS Prasun Banerjee, TMC candidate from Howrah had alleged the CRPF forces for beating him up.

Before the sixth phase of elections, Raman Singh, a BJP worker was found dead in Jhargram, a day before the polling. Two Bhartiya Janta Party workers were shot in East Midnapore’s Bhagabanpur. Sudhakar Maity, a TMC worker, who went missing a day before the polling was also found dead in Contai of West Bengal. On the day of polling on 12 th May, clashes had broken between BJP and TMC workers in Bankura’s booth-1. 718 companies of central forces had been deployed in West Bengal during the 6 th phase. In spite of it, total 26 people were injured and 3 suffered bullet injuries on the day of election as per the statement by Siddhi Nath Gupta, ADG of Police (Law and Order). Apart from these, Priyanka Sharma, a BJP activist was recently arrested for sharing a meme with West Bengal’s CM, Mamata Banerjee’s morphed photo. Priyanka Sharma has alleged that she was tortured in jail and was forced to sign an apology. She was freed from the jail, 18 hours after the Supreme Court’s order.

Marking his final efforts for West Bengal, when, BJP President Amit Shah took out a massive rally in Kolkata, during which, as soon as the rally started and was passing through North Kolkata, there were some students, apparently from the TMC Students’ wing, were seen holding ‘Go Back Amit Shah’ posters. Later on, the clashes broke out between the ABVP (Akhil Bhartiya Vidhyarthi Parishad) and TMCP (Trinamool Congress Chhatra Parishad) resulting to heavy damage of the Vidyasagar college property, burning of vehicles, stone pelting, vandalising Ishwar Chandra Vidyasagar’s statue and so on. However, it is still not sure who initiated the chaos and vandalised West Bengal’s noted educationalist’s bust but both the parties are playing a strong blame game as of now. The unfortunate incident in West Bengal which has injured many is strongly condemned by almost all political personalities.

Is this how an election is meant to take place? Why Election Commission cut down West Bengal campaign by a day? At the end, who is to be blamed for the deaths and injuries during the elections in West Bengal? Why are all the parties’ workers eventually turning into goons in West Bengal? Who initiated this situation? What is the point of victory at the cost of democracy? What is the point of victory at the cost of peace?

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