West Bengal is attracting a lot of attention these days because of multiple communal riots since October 2016. Besides communal disturbance, the state is also witnessing political violence between TMC and BJP workers.
Since the arrest of TMC's two Lok Sabha MPs in connection with chit fund scams, Mamata Banerjee's party workers have allegedly attacked BJP office bearers and destroyed their offices in various parts of the state.
BJP's WB state headquarters in Kolkata was attacked on Tuesday, January 3 and on the next day, party's Hooghly office was set on fire allegedly by TMC workers. State's police stood like mute spectators and CRPF had to take charge of the situation.
According to a report published by Times of India, a bomb was hurled at BJP leader Krishna Bhattacharya's house by TMC workers and she had to be hospitalized due to injuries. Even Babul Supriyo's parents were targeted.
Bharatiya Janata Party's West Bengal unit has demanded the state's governor to impose president's rule due to the failure of law and order.
Reaction from political leaders
If the leaders have not done anything wrong and if they have enough evidence against others, why can't they spell it out to the CBI and prove their innocence? The onus is on the prosecution to prove the guilt in the court. If no guilt is proven, the TMC will emerge as champion.
Several prominent politicians, including country's former Prime Minister H D Deve Gowda, reacted to this by saying that TMC should fight this battle legally and not on streets.
While reacting on the lawlessness in West Bengal, BJP's Rajya Sabha MP Dr. Subramanian Swamy has urged the central government to impose president's rule in the state. As the ruling party in the state has attacked the opposition, the center has a constitutional right to take action against the state. He pointed out that whatever TMC is doing is unconstitutional, and center can issue a warning to the state government under Article 256.
Is there enough evidence to link MPs in question with scams?
According to the information available in public domain, TMC's Lok Sabha MP Sudip Bandyopadhyay is a family friend of Gautam Kundu. He has also served as a director for one of the companies owned by the Rose Valley Group.
Even party’s Lok Sabha MP Tapas Pal has served as one of Rose Valley's board of directors along with his wife Nandini Paul.
Party's former Rajya Sabha MP Srinjoy Bose was arrested in connection with Saradha scam. Another Rajya Sabha MP from TMC-Kunal Ghosh had to spend three years behind bars in the same Saradha scam. TMC has suspended Ghosh, but he had opened a can of worms by claiming that several leaders from the party, including WB's CM are involved in the scam. These are just a few names out of the list that consists of leaders from multiple parties.
Currently, Saradha chit fund scam as well as Rose Valley chit fund scam are being investigated by the Enforcement Directorate and CBI.
There are two points that need attention. First, there are several PILs in the HC and SC about these chit fund scams from West Bengal. CBI started the investigation during the UPA rule and arrested TMC MP. But that time, TMC did not blame Manmohan Singh or make any comments against the UPA for arresting its leaders.
Second is that in 2016, even state's Economic Offences Wing (EOW) and CID has arrested hundreds of people related to both scams. Thus, logically, West Bengal chief minister Mamata Banerjee is not in a position to claim that this is a political vendetta against her party.
At this point, it won't be wrong to conclude that noise, hysteria and all the protests from TMC are to divert attention. Crime was committed, PILs were filed about the same, cases are being heard in various courts, leaders from TMC are not cooperating in investigations, and when they are arrested, the party is coming out to defend them.
"If you are not in crime, you won't be investigated. The question is not about why Trinamool Congress leaders are being investigated. The question is why they were involved in crime and looting people,” said BJP spokesperson Nalin Kohli, during The Newshour debate. This perfectly makes sense.
Should other pillars of democracy look into this issue?
This is nothing new; BJP workers often face attacks in West Bengal and Kerala. Recently released news story about how CPI (M) worker attacked BJP guy's car and threw his 10-month old baby out of the vehicle is still making headlines.
The SC has rightly banned candidates from using caste, religion to gain votes. But, the same democratic pillar has maintained silence on political violence in West Bengal. They have not issued any observation about WB's communal violence as well. Sometimes they make comments on issues even without PILs.
Most debatable part is the role that Election Commission can play in stopping these incidents.
Pune-based Advocate Ramesh Rathore interacted with us and shared his opinion on this matter. He pointed out that as this is political violence, the EC should definitely consider looking into the issue. They can also consider revoking license of the parties that attack political opponents and act against the constitution.
Nitten is a consultant journalist based in Pune and he writes on crime, politics, as well as business.
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