Worrying silence over threats and post-poll violence in Tripura
In view of ‘violent’ language used during the Tripura campaign by BJP, post-poll violence comes as no surprise. What is worrying is the deafening silence of political parties, media and civil society
Should it have been left to the Communist Party of India (Marxist) alone to condemn the violence that the ‘conquering army’ of the BJP and its allies is unleashing on the defeated CPI(M) in Tripura? Should it have been only the CPI(M) communique to have informed us about the attacks, burning and destruction of its offices and brutalisation of its members by the victorious BJP?
Why did political parties, media and our liberal intellectuals maintain a stoic silence in the face of the mocking threat of the BJP leadership to the former Chief Minister of Tripura Manik Sarkar, asking him to look for shelter in West Bengal, Kerala or Bangladesh?
The media however have reported with barely concealed glee that a statue of Lenin was bulldozed by the rampaging hordes of the jubilant members of the BJP. The BJP, on its part, has issued a terse statement asking its members to maintain restraint, failing which they would risk expulsion from the party. Is this warning only for the sake of public consumption? If not why is the party justifying the demolition of the statue of Lenin and the attacks on the offices of the CPI(M) as outpouring of popular anger against the CPI(M)?
The reluctance of the media to even verify the claims of the CPI(M) regarding the violence against it, leave alone report the acts of arson, violence and vandalism on their own, shows the depth to which the media have fallen. Is the violence so insignificant as to be ignored? Or, does the media think that it is natural? Is it not its duty to see if the CPI(M) is exaggerating or do its allegations have some truth in it? Or, does it think that the violence of the winners is justified to a certain extent and should therefore be tolerated?
The CPI(M), which has ruled the state for 25 years, has become so helpless that it can only appeal to the BJP not to indulge in violence in the wake of its sweeping victory. Its inability to even resist the attacks effectively shows that the party had no strength of its own, all it had was the power of the state machinery. The way it has given way to the violence proved that the party was nothing but a pack of cards and its cadre lacked conviction in the much trumpeted people’s ideology. Its record in West Bengal also shows that all it could achieve in its days of power was to mobilise around it a mass of lumpens who deserted the party once power went out of its hands, and it no longer had the fruits of power to distribute among the loyal folks.
We need to be concerned that elections are now being fought as wars and the BJP does not hesitate in employing violent imagery to energise its cadre. It is as if it is on a ‘capture India’ drive, determined to use all means, fair or foul, to achieve this end
Secondly, the fact that the CPI(M) has also indulged in violence in the past cannot be a justification for violence against it now. Democracy cannot survive revengeful and competitive violence.
It should be a concern of all political parties and not only the one which is being targeted. Ideally, the parties should raise this matter in Parliament and take it up with the President of India and make it an all party issue.
The way the police in Tripura is treating the attacks also shows that like their counterparts in the other states, it is only a slave of the masters of the day. Till yesterday they were servants of the CPI(M), today they are on the side of its oppressors. It seems it lacks a sense of it being an instrument of the state with the duty to uphold the law and maintain order and harmony.
The election campaign of the BJP was, right from the beginning, violent in its form. Its threat to throw the CPI(M) into the Bay of Bengal and its call to the people of Tripura to throw away Manik for Hira was symbolically violent.
We need to be concerned that elections are now being fought as wars and the BJP does not hesitate in employing violent imagery to energise its cadre. It is as if it is on a ‘capture India’ drive, determined to use all means, fair or foul, to achieve this end.
The silence of the civil society, media and political class against the symbolic and physical violence of the BJP would prove to be costly for everyone and not just the CPI(M).