- The poll violence witnessed in the assembly elections in Cooch Behar, West Bengal is an aberration that establishes the fact that the narrative in the ongoing polling has been anything but polarized. The two main political parties in the fray viz. the ruling Trinamool Congress and the strong contender to topple the ruling dispensation in Bengal, the Bharatiya Janata Party has gone for the jugular. Embracing the polarized narration much to the detriment of the developmental agenda is unfortunate. What should have been the single-most-important issue for impressing the electorate is conveniently let go by harping on jingoistic recitation.
PC: Amit Agrahari
- The keen followers of the ongoing elections across few states in the country would not have failed to notice how West Bengal’s long stretched eight phases are panning out. Right from the Election Commission to paramilitary forces tasked to maintain law and order to political cadres and the grass-root workers are on the edge is stating the obvious. Increasingly vitriolic attacks on the persona rather than highlighting envisaged developmental agenda has marred the election process in Bengal. Optics visible from the ground tantamount to do or die battle between the two main protagonists and something had to give in and indeed it did in the form of violence in Cooch Behar resulting in few unfortunate deaths.
- Make no mistake, the paramilitary forces are struggling to maintain peace in Bengal, and going by the indications visible on the ground as violence has steadily escalated with each phase, this election is bound to eventually turn out as one of India’s bloodiest in recent history. In hindsight, the Election Commission’s decision to hold polls in eight phases raises questions about its feasibility and efficacy. Of course, the political parties have not spared anything while campaigning as the two sides are evenly matched in resources and motivation to subdue the other by holding back nothing. Each blaming the other for the violence does not help either.
PC: Jhimli Mukherjee Pandey
- The situation is turning out to be extremely sensitive living on razor’s edge as also dollops of rumors and misinformation culminating in the CISF firing unambiguously demonstrates Bengal’s present plight. Come to think of it, the CISF personnel had only helped a sick boy but such has been the vilification of central forces by TMC that this tragedy was waiting to happen to result in four unnecessary deaths. In another distressing incident, a Bihar SHO was lynched in the North Dinajpur district of Bengal amid a general state of lawlessness prevalent in the state ever since the elections are underway. How to correct these anomalies before too many innocent lives are lost? The onus rests on the two political parties to tone down here.
- The EC is entrusted to ensure free and fair elections and it must believe to see through divisive campaigning narratives rather than make lame efforts at blocking the same. Further, the EC should immediately strengthen the presence of paramilitary forces at each of the pooling booths to send across a reassuring message to the apprehensive and worried electorate of their safety. The TMC and the BJP should understand that the electoral battle is not fought for gaining supremacy against one another rather to reinforce the country’s democracy as supreme. Failing to do so would result in permanently damaging this sacred edifice.