Today is 5th phase of election going in West Bengal and from many areas, reports of clashes and political violence are coming. During 4th phase of election, 5 TMC workers shot dead by CISF after coming under attack from them. But this political violence is not new in the state. There has been numerous stances of political violence in West Bengal. Both big and small leaders from different parties had faced political violence.
In December, 2020 when BJP leader JP Nadda was on W.B. visit, he came under attack and his car was stone pelted . Even Mamata Banerjee has faced political violence in 1990, when she came under attack from CPM’s youth wing. She got severe injuries on her head.
HM Amit Shah said that after the 2019 Lok Sabha election, 300 BJP workers were murdered due to political rivalry. On the other hand, TMC said that since 1998, around 1000 TMC workers lost their lives in political rivalry.
So the political rivalry and political violence are kind of part of Politics in West Bengal. But how this all started? From where this politics violence begins? Let’s know about it all!
Naxal Movement and it’s impact
After India’s independence, Congress was ruling W.B. and zamindari system was still active in W.B. But all this changed, when in 1967, one Zamindar brutally beaten a sharecropper and it sparked a movement. All sharecropper gathered an started movement against zamindars. This movement was started from village name Naxalbari and named Naxal Movement. It was led by Charu Majumdar.
This movement led to political divide among people. Like, Congress became party of Upper caste and Zamindars, CPI(M) of Middle class and CPI (ML) of SC/ST.
Even after the death of Charu Majumdar in 1971, this movement didn’t slowdown. Use of guns, bombs and other weapons become common in rural and urban areas. Even in different areas of Kolkata, CPI (M) student supporters were killing government employees and police and vandalizing public property. Police responded it with fake encounters of student leaders. During 1971, even parties have their hired Gundas and gangs.
During 1972, state elections, Congress used it’s muscle power to win election but it was not able to stop the Left movement. This resulted into the win of left parties in 1977 state elections
Left Rule (1977-2006)
After coming to power in 1977, Left rely on basically two factors to maintain it’s support. Firstly, Land reforms through Operation Barga, in which they took land from zamindars and gave it to peasants working on the land. Secondly, Panchayti Raj Institutions, through which Left gained a lot of support. Left knew that only after making happy SC/ST they can remain in power, They started many schemes to impress SC/St.
Also, as they made Zamindars powerless by taking land from the, and to fill their gape, left workers cam ahead. Left workers started working as head of villages and solving issues of people. This made Left parties impact in rural roots. With time, government launched many schemes but as money and efficiency was decreasing, all people were not able to take benefit of schemes. So they started moving to other parties.
It started the clash between ideology of parties and their workers and again the political violence took place.
Rise of TMC
Change in politics of West Bengal came when, TMC was established. It came in alliance with BJP in 2001 elections and created a raft between people over the ideology and party they are supporting. This all lead to more political violence. But at the end, Left won the 2001 election.
The real rise of TMC came in 2008 during Singur and Nandigram movement. When Mamata Banerjee led movement against Tata Nano plant hampered the influence of Left parties. These protests took life of 14 people. But due to this movement, Mamata Banerjee came to power in 2011. But political violence didn’t stop and now TMC was heading the political violence in the state.
BJP’s role in Political violence
In last 10 years, political violence is on increase in West Bengal. Religion has never been an issue in Bengal politics but it became after 2013. BJP is now doing polarization on the basis of religion and accusing TMC of favouring Muslims and their appeasement. This all has now made the environment of battle between BJP and TMC.
Due to the religious polarization by BJP, violence has increased many fold. Due to religion, violence has occurred in 2019 Lok Sabha and 2021 State elections.
If you notice, political violence has not changed. The thing that changed is topics and issues of violence. During 1970s violence was based on farmer’s rights. In 2000s it remain same but TMC become face of Farmer’s movement. And now, Religion become reason of political violence.
Also, political violence happen when, any new party stars influencing masses and current ruling party, tries to suppress influence by using power. It result to clash of parties and workers. Now, we are all seeing this in 2021 West Bengal elections.
Thank you for reading!