“An eye-for-eye and tooth-for-tooth would lead to a world of the blind and toothless.” One understands that political parties across India have never taken this Biblical injunction in the Book of Exodus seriously. But the way BJP workers and supporters have unleashed terror on CPI(M) cadres after coming to power in Tripura, they have surely redefined the maxim of retributive political violence in India. Hundreds are injured. Thousands have fled their homes with their families and are spending sleepless nights under the sky. Many have seen their houses gutted or destroyed. Dozens of offices of the CPIM and its organisations have been vandalized, many have been occupied.
The police, which till the other day would dance to the tune of CPIM apparatchiks, is reportedly not even registering complaints. A statue of Bolshevik Revolution leader Vladimir Lenin, who was an inspiration to freedom fighters like Bhagat Singh and Ganesh Ghosh, was demolished by a saffron mob with the aid of a bulldozer. This is something new. The fact that the shameful act was condoned by BJP’s general secretary Ram Madhav is definitely a new low in Indian politics. While acts of revenge is not surprising or altogether unprecedented, the glee and tacit support, for such a deplorable act that have come out in the form of a tweet by none other than Tripura Governor Tathagata Ray, is definitely a new addition to the annals of Indian democracy. Never before has a constitutional head come out in open support and defence of such acts. Now it seems the practice of destruction and defiling of statues has spread to other states as well. Following Tamil Nadu’s BJP leader H Raja’s threat that Periyar’s statues would be razed, a statue of the self-respect movement leader was actually vandalized in Thirupattur. In retaliation, bombs were hurled at BJP’s party office in Coimbatore. Reports on Jan Sangh leader Shyama Prasad Mukherjee’s statue in Kolkata being defiled have also come in. Suddenly, demolishing statues of icons of political opponents has gone viral.
While different parts of the country have experienced a certain amount of violence with change of governments (West Bengal, Tamil Nadu, Haryana come to mind), the situation in Tripura has surpassed them all. Extensive parts of the tiny state are under Section 144 and the BJP-led government at the Centre has also been forced to intervene to ensure restoration of law and order. This culture of “us and them” is a direct result of the divisive politics of hate practised by the BJP under the leadership of Prime Minister Narendra Modi and party president Amit Shah. In states like Gujarat and Uttar Pradesh, where there is a sizeable minority presence, the hatred has been channeled to incite communal riots in which thousands have perished and where Muslims now live under the fear of majoritarian violence. In states such as Tripura, the Left forces, owing to their staunch opposition to the Sangh’s Hindutva agenda, are being targeted.
With both the state and the Central machinery under their control, the BJP workers are going about their programme of obliterating all opposition with virtual legal impunity. This has always been the Sangh’s modus operandi. Fascist forces can never tolerate democratic traits of tolerance and divergence of opinion even if they have benefitted from the same. Even in the field of ideology, the killing of Pansare, Kalburgi and Gauri Lankesh speak of the same intolerance that followers of the Sangh’s idea of India harbour against their intellectual adversaries. It is therefore incumbent upon all opposition forces to draw the right lesson from this spiral of hate and violence that the country has been swept into: indulging in retribution and revenge will only harm our democracy and our country.