The spiralling post-poll violence in West Bengal from May 2 prompted Bengal Governor Jagdeep Dhankhar to summon the state’s director-general of police to the Raj Bhavan on Monday. Though BJP state president Dilip Ghosh and chief minister Mamata Banerjee appealed TMC and BJP workers for peace and calm, their pleas fell on deaf ears.
Even as counting of votes progressed through Sunday and before the final figures announced the landslide victory about the Mamata Banerjee-led Trinamool Congress in the evening, Bengal’s tryst with post-poll violence shook the state out of its eight-phase-long election stupor.
On Sunday morning, an SUV carrying food for BJP party workers was vandalised allegedly by TMC workers in Natabari constituency in North Bengal’s Cooch Behar district. Eventually, BJP trounced the TMC in the seat by almost 23,000 votes. Through the day, TMC attacks continued till the BJP party office was burnt down in Hooghly’s Arambagh in the evening by an angry mob of expletive-shouting Trinamool workers. TMC lost the seat to the BJP.
By Monday, similar reports of political backlashes poured in from different parts of Bengal where BJP leaders, supporters, their families and hundreds of their party offices and houses had to bear the brunt of attacks by marauding armies of Trinamool party workers.
In Howrah, a garment store was looted, a BJP party office was targeted in Nandigram. Even Mamata Banerjee’s protégé-turned-rival Suvendu Adhikari’s car was attacked after he defeated the sitting chief minister by 1,600-odd votes.
Sova Rani Mondal, the mother of Kamal Mondal, the president of booth no. 177 in the Jagaddal Assembly constituency sustained fatal injuries while saving her son from TMC goons. Visuals surfaced from a TMC victory procession in Purba Burdwan’s Piratala, where the houses of BJP supporters were targeted even as the TMC victory vehicle blared the party’s poll song across the localities.
BJP state president Dilip Ghosh’s call for peace or a similar plea by Mamata Banerjee during a press conference on Monday evening fell on deaf ears despite Mamata proclaiming that she was ‘not vindictive’ and instead, got a suicidal SMS sent to her by the Nandigram election returning officer read out in front of the media to make an oblique allegation at BJP workers’ resorting to high-handedness and violence. She rubbished the BJP’s allegations, saying that BJP was spreading lies using old pictures of riots that took place outside Bengal.
All this even as more visuals surfaced of the body of Manik Moitra, a BJP supporter from Sitalkuchi allegedly shot at and taken to a healthcare centre, where doctors declared him dead. The list of dead BJP workers in post-poll violence at the end of the day also included the names of Uttam Ghosh from Ranaghat, Abhijit Sarkar from Beliaghata, Horom Adhikari from Sonarpur Dakshin and Gourab Sarkar in Bolpur.
Governor Jagdeep Dhankar has summoned the West Bengal director-general of police following the reports of political violence.
Late on Monday evening, news trickled in that the ministry of home affairs has written to the #WestBengal government and asked for a report on the post-election violence targeting opposition political workers in the state.
However, the question remains what necessitates so much mindless violence when the people’s mandate has not only given the Trinamool Congress a clear and comfortable majority but even helped them clinch more than a double-century seats in the 294-seat Legislative Assembly.