OPINION: Bricks for Bharati!

NEW DELHI (The Statesman/ANN) - Visuals of lungi-clad Trinamul stormtroopers pelting stones at BJP cadres in Keshpur ~ a segment of West Bengal’s Ghatal Lok Sabha constituency ~ recalled the fearsome canker in the Kashmir Valley.

In West Bengal, it ignited a conflagration on polling day and in a part of the state that is potentially on the boil. On closer reflection, neither the BJP candidate ~ Bharati Ghosh, the former SP of Jhargram ~ nor Bengal’s ruling party activists can evade responsibility for Sunday’s mayhem during the sixth phase of polling, that covered the volatile Junglemahal belt.

The former IPS officer and once a trusted acolyte of Mamata Banerjee, had once referred to the Chief Minister as the “Mother of Junglemahal”. It is quite another story that Mrs Ghosh and the Chief Minister had subsequently reached a parting of the ways, prompting the feisty officer to quit the IPS and join the BJP.

Last Sunday, she was reduced to tears as she countenanced the fury of the rival party. As Trinamul cadres went berserk with bricks and stones when Mrs Ghosh tried to enter a booth with her polling agent, it was quite evident that the state’s ruling party is infuriated with her recent remark that she would bring in thousands of BJP activists from Delhi and beat up the Trinamul cadres like dogs.

Mrs Ghosh’s language of hate has palpably ignited the violence, that prompted her to scale the walls of a temple and seek refuge at the Keshpur police station. While such language has become par for the course in an astoundingly ugly election, a better choice of words was expected at least of a former member of the uniformed services. The decidedly uncivilized analogy was an echo of the ghastly incident that recently convulsed Kolkata’s NRS Hospital, where two trainee nurses beat up as many as 16 puppies to death.

This appears to be at the core of Trinamul’s counter-mobilisation, of a kind that has not been witnessed in the rest of the 41 constituencies. It has been palpable too that Mrs Ghosh was the lone target of the mob fury, provoking her CISF personnel to fire and injure a Trinamul activist. On closer reflection, the mayhem at Keshpur was the outcome of unrestrained use of foul language both by certain candidates and their leaders.

The inter-personal kerfuffle has somehow transcended the electoral battle. The use of bricks to counter the beating of dogs analogy has placed the tryst with democracy on a powder keg. There will be no winners or losers in the contest for Ghatal. Democracy has degenerated as never before since 1952, when the first parliamentary election was held. Bharati Ghosh crossed the Lakhsman Rekha. The 23rd may or may not bring us hope; it will certainly bring us relief from the spectacle of our leaders decimating democracy with foul rhetoric.

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