West Bengal is being compared to Kashmir in the context of violence against the system. By and large, the conduct of the ongoing Lok Sabha elections has been peaceful in the entire country, which indicates how far India has come in inculcating the spirit of democracy among its people. All the fireworks have been seen on the TV and Smartphone screens as politicians have striven to keep attention on themselves over the very long period that the campaign has lasted.
It is in West Bengal that the democratic process has been seriously challenged. This does not augur well, as the Chief Minister has put herself above and beyond the Constitution by claiming almost proprietary rights over the state. She treats it as her fiefdom where none may encroach at pain, literally, of death. The attack on BJP President Amit Shah’s road show on Tuesday was the culmination of a well-orchestrated process of using muscle and state power to thwart the opposition. Shah claims that more than sixty members of his party have been killed during this election in the state.
The matter has been made worse by the almost complete surrender of the state’s officialdom before the Chief Minister, without regard for constitutional obligations. How deep this runs was seen in the episode of the Kolkata Police Commissioner challenging the CBI and using the uniformed force to cover up various irregularities. Even the Supreme Court’s intervention and strictures do not seem to have awakened the authorities to their obligations. The opposition in the state alleges that this is because there is a deep nexus between the ruling TMC and officialdom in the various scams that have come to the fore, in particular the Sarada Chit Fund, the inquiry into which by the CBI was vehemently opposed by the state government.
Unfortunately for Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee, the entire edifice of power upon which she stands was constructed during the days of her struggle against the totalitarian approach of the Communists who ruled the state before her. She had to fight the political battle on the streets with the help of lumpen elements. Now, she knows no way to govern except by whim and fancy. The political and administrative environment depends basically upon her moods. Everybody has to work hard to ensure that she does not fly into one of her tantrums. It was only inevitable that the damage to the state’s economy and society, already deep owing to Left rule, became even more severe. A severe drubbing at the polls alone will save the state from becoming a permanent basket case.