As the Bengal Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee led her party - Trinamool Congress - to a spectacular victory against the Bharatiya Janata Party and also against the Left-Congress combine in state polls on Sunday, a large section of media hailed it as a vote for 'inclusive, secular and democratic India'.
But what is unfolding in the immediate aftermath of her triumph is horrific. Bengal has been in the grip of bloody violence that has allegedly left dozens of BJP workers dead and injured, and their property ransacked, looted and burnt.
Social media is swamped by a flood of videos and photos of goons, allegedly from the TMC, wreaking havoc on their defeated political opponents.
BJP cadre and leaders have reported hundreds of cases of looting and arson, and some even of murder and rape in the last two days in Bengal.
PM Modi calls Bengal Governor
Concerned over incidents of brutal violence after the 2021 Assembly election results in West Bengal, that claimed several lives and left many injured, Prime Minister Narendra Modi on Tuesday called Governor Jagdeep Dhankhar and enquired about the ‘alarming situation’ in the state, said a News18 report.
“PM called and expressed his serious anguish and concern at the alarmingly worrisome law & order situation @MamataOfficial. I share grave concerns @PMOIndia given that violence vandalism, arson, loot and killings continue unabated. Concerned must act in overdrive to restore order,” Dhankhar tweeted.
Left party workers attacked too
Although BJP workers have been the primary targets of these horrendous attacks in a majority of the cases, even the Communist Party of India supporters and their offices have been subjected to violence.
Meanwhile, Kailash Vijayvargiya, BJP general secretary and party incharge for Bengal, said that several party workers were killed and over 4,000 houses ransacked in incidents of post-poll violence.
Multiple reports of post-poll violence and arson from various parts of West Bengal on Monday have also prompted the Union Ministry of Home Affairs to seek a report from the Bengal government on incidents of attack on opposition workers.
Not only are business establishments of political opponents being looted, but even the offices of political parties are being burnt.
Houses of candidates who fought against the TMC are being attacked and ransacked; even the cars and other vehicles of BJP candidates and supporters are being smashed and damaged.
Rape, arson, murder...
Social media platforms were also inundated with reports of cases where female polling agents of the BJP have been gang-raped. There were tweets and reports that alleged that at least 28 BJP workers/supporters have been killed in the last two days alone.
In one of the cases, an old lady was hacked to death as she was trying to protect her son from goons who were attacking him.
Even as the violence continues to unfold in Bengal, police have been a mute spectator allowing alleged TMC mobs to carry out their attacks, according to media reports.
Yechury condemns violence
The situation is so bad that even CPI(M) stalwart Sitaram Yechury, who is a bitter critic of the BJP, tweeted and severely condemned the violence perpetrated by TMC workers. Even Congress leaders in the states have also raised their voices against the rampant violence.
However, all through this mayhem, Mamata Banerjee has remained totally silent. She has not made even a meek plea to her cadre asking them to maintain peace and hasn’t condemned the violence at all.
For someone who has ruled the state with an iron hand in the last 10 years, Mamata’s appeal to her workers will go a long way in stemming the violence that has engulfed Bengal as BJP workers are being terrorised and killed. Mamata is the undisputed supremo in her party and no one will disobey her word.
If she condemns the violence and orders the administration and police to take strict action against perpetrators, many lives would be saved.
TMC leaders in denial, reject violence reports
After her third consecutive win, the TMC spokesperson - Derek O' Brien proclaimed that after this victory she (Mamata) is no more just a Didi of the state, but a mother. But the conduct of her supporters - and her refusal to condemn them - is anything but motherly.
Even in the past, there have been many accusations of violence against TMC people in the last few years. In 2018 Panchayat polls, Mamata allowed her supporters to run riot and browbeat opponents into submission which resulted in deaths of at least 30 people. In as many as 34.2% seats, the only candidate to file a nomination was from the TMC.
This is an opportunity for her to step up to the plate, send out a strong message to perpetrators and end the culture of political violence in the state.
Even as the BJP and the Left parties express shock at the intensity of the violence in Bengal, TMC leaders have taken to Twitter to claim that this is just a fake news campaign.