Ashmira Begam

Anirban Biswas

Although intellectual-cultural degenerates who, feeling the winds of change, aligned themselves with Mamata Banerjee for the purpose of obtaining sinecures and have been amply rewarded will refuse to admit, the fact remains that during the recently concluded Lok Sabha polls in West Bengal, there has been large-scale rigging in some places, and the Election Commission has proved to be a callous and worthless body. In this context, an event in Ketugram, Burdwan, has become especially significant. The opposition parties in general could not provide even the minimum resistance to the massive onslaughts launched by the Trinamul Congress (TMC) hoodlums, and the police force thought it more prudent not to antagonize the party in power. In a booth in the Ketugram block, a married woman named Ashmira Begam, a CPI(M) supporter, led the resistance against rigging and in that booth, the CPI(M) and the TMC got 324 and 219 votes respectively. On 21 May, Ashmira's house was attacked and she was killed, rendering her poor children motherless.

The results of the Lok Sabha polls have shown that in many booths the TMC has got almost all the votes. Nobody can say they were true indications of the political opinions of the people of West Bengal. It is however true that ever since the nineties (or the late eighties?) of the last century, the CPI(M) too resorted to this practice in large measure and the perpetrators of poll violence were even considered by some leaders as 'assets of the party'. But the tendency, quite visible in some quarters, to justify the TMC's violence by referring to the CPI(M)'s activities, is a patently dishonest one. In 2009 and 2011, the TMC emerged victorious because the people stood in favour of democracy and justice as against the CPI(M)'s one-party autocratic rule. They aspired to create an environment in which the people would be able to exercise their true choices, lives would not be sacrificed for having differences with the ruling party, the offices of opposition parties would not be seized by the mussclemen of the ruling party and the former's supporters would not be driven away from their homes. But as a matter of fact, the TMC has started a reverse practice from the very beginning, making it the basis for its rule.

The lifeless body of Ashmira Begam throws a question at the face of the well-meaning people of Bengal, not the intellectual-cultural prostitutes interested only in power and pelf. The question is whether democracy will be protected or its destruction by means of oppression on all sorts of poor, helpless citizens who do not dance to the tunes of Mamata Banerjee will be accepted without protest. Then future of West Bengal largely depends on how this question is answered.

Vol. 46, No. 51, Jun 29 - Jul 5, 2014