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Can Mamata control TMC goons?

June 13, 2019 09:01 IST

'One of the reasons for the BJP's recent resounding success in West Bengal is the resentment of the locals against the Trinamool Congress for failing to maintain law and order.'
'So, it isn't only the supposed pampering of the Muslims by the Trinamool Congress which has undermined its base among the Hindus,' notes Amulya Ganguli.

IMAGE: BJP workers in Kolkata protest the killing of party workers in West Bengal. Photograph: Ashok Bhaumik/PTI Photo

Ideally, West Bengal deserves to be placed under President's rule.

But the Congress has misused this particular provision of the Constitution so blatantly that Article 356 has become the most reviled of all Constitutional measures.

Moreover, the original concept of President's -- or, in effect, governor's -- rule was that a state suffering from a breakdown of the Constitutional machinery would be temporarily placed under a neutral and impartial governor so that he may restore the rule of law.

But this precondition has lost its meaning.

Today's governors are neither unbiased nor non-partisan, for all of them are members of the ruling party at the Centre.

As such, they cannot be expected to preside over the administration of a state in a fair and even-handed manner, especially one which had been under a party of the Opposition.

So, the option of President's rule is ruled out on two counts -- its misuse by the Congress and the practice of appointing ruling party members to the Raj Bhavans, which also started in the Congress's time.

 

Yet, it is obvious that the West Bengal government is unable to maintain law and order.

The reason is that ever since the assumption of power by the Trinamool Congress, it hasn't bothered to keep its unruly cadres in check.

Instead, the party has allowed them to run amok either to intimidate its political opponents as during the panchayat polls or to extort money from ordinary citizens such as a relative of Bangladesh Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina who complained to Mamata Banerjee.

Except in the case of Sheikh Hasina's relative, the police have tended to turn a blind eye to such lawless behaviour.

One of the reasons for the BJP's recent resounding success in West Bengal is the resentment of the locals against the Trinamool Congress for failing to maintain law and order.

So, it isn't only the supposed pampering of the Muslims by the Trinamool Congress which has undermined its base among the Hindus.

It is possible that Mamata Banerjee has understood the mistake which she has made by not restraining the goons masquerading as cadres.

Since she runs a one-person outfit where everyone else is a nonentity, she apparently cannot find anyone who can be deputed to keep an eye on the lawless elements.

She could have asked the police to do so.

But, as in all other ruling parties, the belief in West Bengal is that the police are there only to serve those in power.

The resultant erosion of their professionalism has meant that the police have been defanged and demoralised, hiding under tables during an attack on the Alipore thana by slum dwellers in 2014 and looking on helplessly as thanas were set on fire in Malda and Burdwan districts in 2016 and 2017.

The scene in West Bengal today is reminiscent of the days when the CPI-M was engaged in establishing its hegemony in the late 1960s by attacking the Congress as well as the CPI, the RSP, the Forward Bloc and others.

Then, after the Naxalites emerged in 1969, the CPI-M came under attack as well from its former comrades.

From 1972, when the Congress came into power, the 'peace' of the graveyard prevailed in West Bengal with the Naxalites being killed in fake encounters and the CPI-M and other Leftists lying low.

The same sombre 'peace' lasted for three decades as the CPIM-led Left Front won in 1977.

But students and technocrats left West Bengal in droves as even reputed educational institutions lost their lustre and no jobs were available.

Now, the 'peace' has been shattered with two new forces -- the Trinamool Congress and the BJP -- battling it out for control of the state as the Communists earlier did.

Who will win is still unclear.

But what is clear is that there will be no respite for the ordinary people in the near future.

Amulya Ganguli is a writer on current affairs.

Amulya Ganguli