Bengal violence: Deep polarisation on party lines resurfaces

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Bengal violence
The colours have changed but the politics hasn't. Post-Poriborton West Bengal proved it in the broad daylight on Monday when three persons lost their lives in a violence that broke out between supporters of the Trinamool Congress and BJP in Makra village in Birbhum district of West Bengal.

Blood-spilling party politics of West Bengal

The blood-spilling politics brought to the fore the fact that Bengal continues to remain a prisoner of polarising party politics where the us-them conflict has only snowballed, the 'change for the better' notwithstanding, reminding one of the horrible ending of the Left regime in the state after a long duration of 34 years.

TMC took advantage of the Left's slide among rural constituencies

When the Left regime was declining steadily in the wake of the Singur and Nandigram fiasco where the industrial plan of the government of former chief minister Buddhadeb Bhattacharjee boomeranged and even led to the killing of villagers in police firing, the then opposition led by Mamata Banerjee's Trinamool Congress (TMC) took the full advantage of the strong anti-incumbency mood and piggybacked it to defeat an ageing and weakening leadership in the 2011 assembly election.

The more the Left was losing ground among its constituencies that it had fed through rural programmes like land reforms and panchayat systems since 1977, thanks to its unpopular policies, the TMC benefitted even if it did not have an equally robust organisation and finally turned the table.

But TMC couldn't make Bengal violence-free and the same story resurfaced after BJP's success

But the TMC could never live up to the promise of making Bengal violence-free for there was no mechanism to change the pattern of politics in the rural parts of the state. After coming to power, the party of Mamata Banerjee just took advantage of the unwritten law in rural Bengal: Opposition is never allowed to exist. There is no second option when one party is in power. In this way, the once mighty Left perished and the TMC arose on its ruins.

In Bengal, destructive party politics is an ugly expression of factional fights

Now, with Banerjee's party failing to manage the administration and the BJP witnessing an upward growth throughout India, the voices of dissent in the TMC are finding a new political alternative in the BJP. The more this is happening, the more the TMC is getting rattled and the result is the intensifying clash between the two parties.

In Bengal, party conflicts are manifestations of factional fights fuelled by political and economic stagnation

Actually, this is nothing but the fallout of the stagnant rural lifestyle in the state which has been left nowhere in terms of financial turnaround. The more the state falls behind because of lack of plan and policies, the more its rural life struggles to move forward, the uglier the expressions of dissent become and destructive party politics becomes the media of expression of the mutually destructive factional fights over resources.

Religion is being used by the BJP now to counter TMC's open appeasement of minorities

Religion has a secondary role to play in the politics of Bengal but when the administration turn biased but ineffective and the economy fragile, parties like the BJP make religion also a significant factor. In Birbhum, for example, where the local TMC strongmen have made it difficult for the commoners, the BJP take advantage of the fact that many areas of the said district have Muslim-dominated pockets.

The saffron party is projecting the anti-incumbency mood against the TMC as the latter's declining popularity among the minority sections. This is a calculated counter-move to challenge the TMC's open appeasement policies towards the minorities and can benefit the BJP in the medium run.

But will the BJP gain much by borrowing the same brand of Bengal politics?

TMC replicated the Left's style of ruling for its leaders hadn't learnt any other form of politics in their formative years. But since the party never had an equally strong bench of ideologues and ground machinery, the future of the borrowed politics was always fraught with risk. The BJP is the new TMC in Bengal now. But can it afford to rerun the Bengal brand of politics to come to power in Kolkata within the next decade?

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