Written by Kamakshi Anand, a grade 12 student.
Kangana Ranaut took to Instagarm after her Twitter was (finally) suspended and for the first time in a long time she said something agreeable but then (like always) proceeded to ruin the moment, which I will address later in this article. She appropriately used the phrase “death of democracy” to refer to the violence in West Bengal. Let that sink in—the death of democracy in a state of the world’s largest democracy.
What is happening in West Bengal?
Elections in the state ended on May 2 with the Trinamool Congress (TMC) emerging victorious after a tough battle against BJP whose support seems to have grown massively since the last election. While Mamta Banerjee took the oath as Chief Minister for the third time, violence broke out in several constituencies. A video of miscreants said to be Trinamool Congress (TMC) workers, setting the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) office in Arambagh on fire, went viral. Now that’s odd because it usually isn’t the victor who is responsible for havoc. According to Kailash Vijayvargiya, the BJP’s general secretary, four of their staff were killed, and nearly 4,000 homes were looted as a result of the state’s post-election violence. The death toll is at 14 persons.
While there is no substantial evidence and Banerjee denied TMC’s involvement, there is widespread consensus that TMC workers are responsible for the violence. The TMC claims that its cadres have also been attacked.
How are the State authorities reacting?
The BJP state president Dilip Ghosh says, neither the state police nor the new administration came to help the people in need. Mamta Banerjee has been asked to submit a report of the violence to the Centre.
The BJP’s reaction and how it is worsening the situation
The BJP’s reflex action in any situation is to make it a communal issue. (A communal issue is one that concerns different communities; commonly used to refer to inter-religious issues.) The BJP, in this case, too, is trying to blame this on Muslims and “infiltrators”, calling it a “conspiracy against India”, sharing misleading images and videos some of which have been proven to be showing violence from other incidents. Some party workers have gone as far as calling for Presidential Rule to deal with the “Muslim goons”.
The Communist Party of India (Marxist) – itself a victim of the violence – stepped in to dispute the BJP’s far-reaching and flawed characterisation.
This violence is political and not communal.
History of political violence in TMC’s Bengal
The lynching of 11 landless Muslim labourers by CPI(M) cadres at Suchpur village in Birbhum district on July 27, 2000, almost a year after a general election, was a major incident that helped Mamata Banerjee rise during the Jyoti Basu regime. The TMC and CPI(M) clashed fatally in 2011 in Nandigram, leading to the Left’s downfall. Mamata Banerjee vowed to set things right when she came to power in 2011.
Nonetheless, the assassinations and turf wars intensified. Former CPI(M) MLA Pradip Tah and Burdwan district chief Kamal Gayen were allegedly bludgeoned to death by TMC employees in February 2012, bringing the total number of CPI(M) leaders and workers killed in the aftermath of the 2011 assembly poll violence to 56 in just nine months.
Bengal was thrown back in time by the 2018 panchayat elections. The elections stood out because of suspected electoral malpractices, despite the fact that only 10 people died on election day, compared to an all-time high of 76 in 2003 and 39 in the 2013 rural polls. While the state election commission was ordered by the Calcutta high court and Supreme Court to ensure free and fair voting, the TMC, which won 34 percent of the seats uncontested, was accused of perpetrating violence in all districts.
What I’m trying to indicate is that violence—political violence—has always been at the centre of Bengal’s political scenario. Considering the TMC’s track record, it is understandable why the blame has been directed towards TMC and yet, remains unusual the timing of this violence.
Let’s talk about Kangana Ranaut
For context, you may watch her IGTV video. Here are a few things to think about (please note, I am simply stating the problematic and hypocritical nature of her statements):
- She first complains that international “liberal” media outlets were not covering the violence, but on many occasions she has explicitly asked Hollywood figures and international media outlets reporting matters like the migrant crisis of 2020, the anti-CAA protests and the Farmers Protests among others, to not intervene in “internal matters” of India. So, is it only an internal matter if the BJP is in the wrong? What is her definition of an “internal matter”?
- She asks the PM (via Twitter before suspension) to show his might against the violent elements like he did in the early 2000s, which refers to his alleged role in the Godhra violence in 2002 in Gujarat. Is she endorsing the mass-killings of 2002?
- She poses the question, “Are Hindu lives so cheap (in Bengal)?” and I want to ask her why Muslim lives were cheap during the violence against anti-CAA protestors in East Delhi and why she stood by it? Is any life cheap? Should religious affiliation be a measure of the cost of human life?
While all of these are important questions to think about when posed, there are many who do not notice anything wrong with these statements in the first place. It is important to educate yourself before formulating an opinion on the basis of what a famous personality has to say.
Violence is never the answer. It is time we start realising that and work towards eliminating it rather than joining the Centre in pointing fingers and fuelling the fire.
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