ISSN (Print) - 0012-9976 | ISSN (Online) - 2349-8846

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Poll Violence in West Bengal

In the recently held parliamentary elections, West Bengal witnessed many incidents of violence. On the eve of the last round of elections, some spectacular violent incidents took place in Kolkata and its neighbourhood. In most of the cases, the tough men associated with the ruling party, Trinamool Congress (TMC), led such attacks against the Communist Party of India (Marxist) –CPI(M) – leaders and functionaries. It was reported in the media thatTMC supporters vandalised aCPI(M) party office in Belgharia and then thrashed someCPI(M) leaders. The same thing happened in Beliaghata- vandalisation of aCPI(M) party office and bashing up of a party functionary. In Cossipore, the local committee secretary (LCS) of theCPI(M) was beaten up by men allegedly belonging to theTMC. It is alleged that theLCS was beaten up in front of the officer-in-charge of the local police station.

The above episodes testify to the criminalisation of the public sphere and partisanship of the police force. This process started in West Bengal in the early 1970s under the Congress rule. After the Left Front came to power in 1977 with huge popular support, it did not have to resort to such acts of overt violence in the early years of its rule. However, the moment the Left Front started losing its popular support in different regions, it did not hesitate to use tough men and the police force to suppress any resistance. As a result, criminalisation of the public sphere and politicisation of the police became an organic part of everyday governance in West Bengal. Today, the left is paying the price for its own paradigm of governance.

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