Wanton violence by BJP’s cadre in Kolkata part of playbook to foment trouble in state
The BJP, aware that it can't unseat the TMC from power through democratic means, seems to be trying to create anarchy in West Bengal so as to justify the imposition of President's rule in the state
The manner in which the BJP's cadre created a boisterous situation and indulged in violence on September 13 near Nabanna, the West Bengal government’s secretariat, does not behove a political party ostensibly trying to stage a political comeback in the state.
Instead, it indicates that the saffron party had contrived a well-designed plan to engineer chaos.
A closer look at the nature of the protest rally against ‘corruption’ would make it clear that it was straight from the party’s toolkit to engineer communal violence and riots.
The party seems to be making state-specific plans to foment trouble: Gyanvapi issue in Uttar Pradesh, Nupur Sharma issue in Rajasthan, Peshwa and Maratha issue in Maharashtra. In West Bengal, it decided to igniting violence on the pretext of fighting ‘corruption’ since the party had no Hindu-Muslim issue to pick up there at the given moment.
It would seem that the Modi-Shah duo has turned sceptical of their electoral prospects in the wake of the huge success of the ongoing ‘Bharat Jodo Yatra’. The response of the masses to the rally has clearly shaken their confidence. To neutralise its impact, they seem to be ready to go to any extent. Indeed, one wouldn’t be surprised to witness communal strife across the country in the run up to the 2024 General Election.
The BJP’s main strategist, Amit Shah, and other top leaders are well aware that it is an arduous task to try and unseat the TMC from power in a democratic way, having spectacularly failed to do so when Assembly polls were held last year. As such, they are evidently trying to get the state into a state of anarchy so that they can implement their long cherished dream of getting the state put under President’s rule.
The BJP leaders tried to give an impression that their Nabanna rally was a massive affair. In reality, it fell far short of their own expectations and the preparation made for it. They had claimed that nearly 2 lakh people would participate, but the actual number of participants was not more than 50,000.
Nevertheless, they succeeded in implementing their plan to kindle violence.
The determination of the party leaders to see Kolkata plunge into violence was clearly evident on the streets, far away from Nabanna, with the BJP cadres resorting to ruthless violence without provocation. They mercilessly thrashed police personnel, including an Assistant Commissioner of Police and indulged in arson.
They resorted to this nature of violence on the pretext that the police did not allow them to march towards Nabanna.
Now, a political party enjoys the right to speak against the incumbent government and draw public attention towards its administrative failures. But what happened on Tuesday in Kolkata is really deplorable. The BJP’s leadership, behind the façade of ‘Nabanna Abhiyan’, was simply giving shape to its plan to push the state into chaos.
The BJP went on to use the media, government machinery and even the judiciary to further this mission. An apolitical common person will testify that the protesters resorted to reckless violence, but the BJP leadership was quick to move the High Court and tried to convince it that the police has used brutal means to stop them from reaching Nabanna.
Someone filed a PIL in Calcutta High Court claiming that BJP workers were forcibly prevented from attending the rally and party leaders were attacked.
On its part, the court justifiably directed the state government to send a detailed report about the rally and the police action which had happened near Nabanna by September 19. A division bench comprising Chief Justice Prakash Shrivastava and Justice R Bharadwaj also directed the state government to ensure protection of the BJP state headquarters in Kolkata.
The court also directed the state authorities to ensure that no unnecessary arrest was made in connection with the rally.
It would have been highly appreciated if the court had also looked at the nature of the violence that was unleashed by the BJP workers in the heart of the city.
The visuals of the vandals setting a police vehicle on fire and thrashing the police officers had gone viral.
The petition was moved even while the protesters were having a scuffle with the police. It implied that the petition was ready long before the protesters even formally launched their march.
Around 20 police officers were injured by stones pelted by the BJP workers.
The BJP leaders would not have complained if the Mamata government had allowed them to put the lives of the people to ransom and vandalise the state secretariat. In a situation when the protestors were burning the cars of some common people and attacking the innocent people, how could the police not use force to disperse them?
The BJP will undoubtedly refute the contention that its cadres and supporters had gone berserk and indulged in unprovoked violence.
BJP insiders, nevertheless, concede that the rally, on which the party spent a good Rs 10 crore, was a failure.
A senior leader said, “I wish our leaders had coordinated among themselves and drawn up a proper plan”.
It is said that a section of the state leaders are not happy with the political plans for the state being prepared by the central leaders, who, they say, don’t understand or care about the cultural ethos of the people of West Bengal.
They are also aggrieved at these leaders giving more credence to the turncoats who have migrated from TMC and indulging in dirty games only to settle personal scores.
The saffron party's local leaders are now worried that the September 13 violence might have only isolated it further and will adversely impact its performance in the panchayat polls due next year. But it's too late now to undo the damage, of course.
Views are personal