Even though the campaign for the Lok Sabha elections is yet to pick up in West Bengal, personal attacks, abusive comments and sexist remarks have vitiated the state’s political atmosphere in a hitherto unseen manner.
Unlike Tamil Nadu, where verbal spats involving the AIADMK and DMK are quite common, politicians in West Bengal had always refrained from making personal attacks while focusing more on the issues and problems faced by the people. Hence, the people of the state were shocked when CPM legislator and former minister Anisur Rahman referred to Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee’s “proposed marriage” and Trinamool Congress (TMC) district chief Anubrata Mondal compared the Leftists to rodents. Addressing a Left Front(LF) poll rally in Birbhum district, Rahman targeted Mamata over her “obsession with blue and white colours and hatred for red.”
Although Rahman’s remark drew widespread condemnation, the CPM bosses at the party state headquarters on Alimuddin Street chose not to comment. But CPM Central Committee (CC) member Subhashini Ali,who is the party nominee for the Barrackpore Lok Sabha seat, immediately condemned the remark.
Even the other LF constituents reacted sharply to Rahman’s remark since they believed that it could further alienate the women voters from the CPM-led alliance.
Meanwhile, the TMC wrote to the Speaker and complained that he had committed breach of privilege and should be punished. However, Rahman was hardly repentant and even dared the TMC to take up the matter.
“I have committed no wrong and will repeat it again. Let them complain to the Speaker. What can they do?” he said. CPM insiders said Rahman had been censored by the party and was asked to exercise restraint in the future.
During a CPM rally last year, Rahman had made obscene remarks about Mamata. “Didi is offering money to the rape victims and asking them to keep quiet. I would like to ask her that what will be her fee to remain silent if she were a rape victim,” he had said.
And Mondal’s verbal onslaught against the CPM-led Left bloc, that followed Rahman’s outburst, was equally vicious. “The CPM is a party of rodents. After you harvest, what do you do when you find rat holes in the fields? You put poison in those holes. Do the same thing when the CPM workers come to you for votes,” he had remarked.
The Opposition LF promptly lodged an official complaint with the State Election Commission(SEC), which urged partymen to refrain from uncalled for remarks in their speeches and exercise restraint during the poll campaign.
TMC leaders, though, were of the view that Mondal, who was more of a maverick than a dyed-in-the-wool politician, had resorted to such rhetoric as he received the backing of the CM herself even after exhorting the party workers to hurl bombs at the police.