A completely needless confrontation is building up between the Centre and the West Bengal government ever since Mamata Banerjee scored a landslide victory in the recent Assembly polls. At least 15 people have been killed in the spate of post-poll violence, including BJP and Trinamool supporters. Grim videos of the barbarity ought to have spurred the administration into action, but there was hardly any visible effort, though the chief minister later said that violence won’t be tolerated.
On May 6, the day she took her fresh oath of office, a Mamata flunkey trotted out the specious excuse of her inability to issue orders to restore law and order since the model code of conduct for the polls was in force. But the model code ended on May 2, the day the votes were counted, which incidentally was when the violence began. When a mob attack had left four persons dead in Sitalkuchi in Cooch Behar district in the middle of the elections, Mamata railed against the Election Commission for not letting her visit the families of the victims to share their grief. Yet, when a post-poll flare up happened in the same Sitalkuchi, she had better things to do than make a repeat trip.
Amid all the opposition anger against what it called state-sponsored attacks, the BJP committed a faux pas as the photo of one of the nine partymen it claimed were slain in Sitalkuchi, turned out to be that of a mediaperson now based in Delhi. But that doesn’t detract from the fact that Mamata failed to take immediate corrective action and let the situation slip. Also, almost condoning a mob attack on Union minister V Muraleedharan’s car in West Midnapore district, asking why he was in the state in the first place, and warning the Centre to honour the people’s mandate, was a little over the top.
That Didi is an icon of anti-BJP forces is beyond dispute. But she has to promote amity and deliver good governance. Rulers ought to follow raj dharma. Governance ought to be visible and even-handed in line with the rule of law. There can be no place for violence in democracy.