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Shocking Depravity


The news emerging from West Bengal’s Sandeshkhali about women being summoned to the local TMC office for the sexual gratification of the party’s cadre indicates the level to which lawlessness has taken hold in the state. The main accused, TMC leader Sheikh Shajahan, has been absconding for a month after his supporters attacked an ED team investigating financial wrongdoing. Following the incident, locals have been revealing the ‘hold’ Shajahan had on the area as a part of the Mamata Banerjee state apparatus.

Violence as a ‘legitimate’ political weapon was institutionalised by the Communists in the state during their thirty-four year tenure. The TMC under present Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee fought back by adopting similar strategies, and has, since, retained power by taking the viciousness to quite another level. She has built a coalition of interests that keeps her in power in return for the licence to prey upon the common people. There have been so many exposes regarding the numerous ways the entire cross-section of society is made to pay the party’s ‘cut money’. Unfortunately, the ‘secular’ establishment has considered this a lesser evil as compared to the BJP’s ‘Hindutva’ and remained silent. However, the events in Sandeshkhali have revealed the extent to which matters have descended, even worse than any ‘jungle raj’.

So confident is the Chief Minister on her hold over the system, that she remains unfazed by these revelations. The police and other elements of the state machinery have long surrendered their ‘constitutional integrity’ to the party, as much out of fear as a share in the handouts. Recently, even the Election Commission has expressed doubts about the impartiality of the police force. The fact that, despite all this, the BJP has managed to make inroads into the state is a testament to the people’s desperation.

There was a time when such brazen disregard of constitutional propriety would have led to the state government’s dismissal, but the present Modi Government has been very disinclined to exercise that power. This is, perhaps, because the BJP has been on the receiving end of this approach in the past. Or, maybe, it is more committed to the democratic path and hopes to combat it at the grassroots level, as it does not lack cadre either. Under the circumstances, it becomes all the more important that the elections in West Bengal, and elsewhere, be conducted with the strictest impartiality. All the tactics used by the TMC to intimidate voters should be prevented. India’s democracy is too precious to be hijacked by the greedy and the unscrupulous.