Trinamool Congress MP and Tollywood actor Tapas Pal’s call to his supporters to “destroy” CPI(M) workers and rape their women seems to have created a public outrage even among politicians not known for their sense of political correctness. Party chief Mamata Banerjee’s expression of “deep anguish” and promise to consider action against him is not enough. He should be forced to resign and if he does not, Parliament should take action against him. A lawmaker exhorting his followers to commit such a heinous crime is guilty of contempt of Parliament as it besmirches the dignity of the institution.
The episode should also make the West Bengal chief minister reconsider her preference for choosing film stars as her party’s candidates. Even if only a few who made a career in films may descend to Pal’s level, the fact remains that the kind of adulation which the matinee idols receive from an early age, and the secluded life they almost always live in the company of courtiers, most of whom are not well educated, often tend to bring out the worst traits in their personalities. As Pal’s boasting in intemperate language—informing his audience that he always carries a revolver—showed, he is not someone who is used to decent discourse or the norms of polite society. His was the language of the street.
While this particular member of Trinamool Congress has crossed all limits of civilised behaviour, it is worth remembering that the party has earned a reputation for harbouring criminal elements. The recent death of the owner of a small hotel which had refused to provide a room to a Trinamool activist for “pleasurable” activity showed how the party has degenerated since it came to power by admitting, as is generally believed, nearly all the anti-socials who were earlier with the communist parties. The latest shocking incident is a timely warning to all political parties that they must not regard an election victory as a licence to run amok.