The Communists used violence as a means to acquire power in West Bengal, effectively undermining the democratic process. The Trinamool Congress used the same weapon with greater ferocity to upend them. Softened by their long stint in power, the communists have almost entirely been marginalised as a political force in the state. Everybody is aware of the support base Mamata Banerjee has stitched together to acquire power and, how, it enforces its writ. The cult of violence has acquired proportions equaling the worst days in terrorism hit J&K. Each incident of barbarity indicates that the TMC Supremo is astride a tiger she can no longer control. She can only pretend to be.
Just as the Article 370 surgery has provided J&K a fresh lease of life and a new political direction, West Bengal requires some paradigm changing interventions. This is among the rare issues that the Congress and BJP agree upon. There is a strong case for imposition of President’s Rule, a provision that political parties have been chary of utilising in the past couple of decades. However, that would not be enough to cleanse the state’s political culture. Other measures will be required over a longish period of time, which will require strong political will and an across the board consensus.
The Birbhum massacre is another reminder of the state of affairs in West Bengal. There is a limit to how much can be tolerated. The sufferings of the ordinary people are increasing by the day and there has to be a limit on how long these can be overlooked merely because the present government is a ‘democratically elected’ one. Would it be right to ignore the developments merely because of constitutional timidity?
Had the other pillars of democracy managed to retain their autonomy in the state, there would have been the necessary checks and balances. But, it has been seen that the civil services and the media, in particular, have been tamed to the level where they have failed to perform their required duties. The usual slow processes of the judicial system have not helped. Judging by the utterances of Trinamool politicians, West Bengal could well be a separate country. Delaying an effective response merely because it could be unpopular among some sections is not a good enough reason to further endanger innocent lives.