The politics of violence


Most political parties are keen to recruit rabble rousers and those with dubious pasts as they come in handy during election time for intimidating voters and securing votes.

Indian politics can be slotted in different categories and this has nothing to do with their political affiliations. Some of them, alas a microscopic minority are sincere and honest and are in politics to serve the people. The politician who spells disaster for the nation is the one who preaches the doctrine of violence and who irrespective of the office that he or she holds uses every single opportunity to incite gullible people to violence and when their nefarious acts are exposed manage to save themselves by tendering apologies which of course count for nothing. In recent times videos of hate speeches by an actor turned politician Tapas Pal, a Lok Sabha MP of the Trinamool Congress (TMC) wherein he has threatened to send his boys (TMC cadres) to rape the womenfolk of those who belong to the opposition party, the Communist Party of India Marxist (CPM) creating a furore across the country.

He has also advised women to use their kitchen knives to slit throats and the men to chop CPM men to pieces. There has been no debate on the authenticity of the videos that have surfaced but it is the muted reaction of the party’s supreme leader Mamata Banerjee, the chief minister of West Bengal and a one time staunch fighter for human rights that has taken everyone by surprise and horror. The TMC has allowed the matter to rest after an unconditional apology by the offender and for all intents and purposes he has been let off the hook.

Although his call to arms could attract several sections of the Indian Penal Code, he will not have to face the music as those who should prosecute and punish him are on his side. This however is an extreme case, but violence mongering is not something that is unknown in this country and no party can claim to be above board in this respect.

The brutal murder of Chandrasekharan who left the Marxist party in Kerala to start his own political outfit, and the boast by a Marxist party man that his party cadres have committed several political murders is indicative of the fact that there is a whole culture of violence that is slowly eating into the vitals of Indian politics.

The role of political parties in elevating leaders with chequered pasts and a history of violence is something that is extremely disturbing. Most parties are keen to recruit rabble rousers and those with dubious pasts as they come in handy during election time for intimidating voters and securing their votes. With time these criminal elements infiltrate into the party and using muscle power even manage to climb the rungs of the ladder and get themselves elected to office. And then they begin to show their true colours by propagating their doctrine of violence and this in turn creates a situation where violence is unleashed and human lives are lost.

As far as the party bigwigs are concerned if an orgy of violence can earn them dividends in the form of electoral support or lead to a widening of the party base they are only too willing to turn a blind eye to hate speeches or violence perpetrated by their partymen. It is indeed a pathetic situation where criminals in the garb of politicians are able to ply their trade without fear of the consequences. As it would be futile to expect political parties to take stern action against their leaders who go off the track, the only option would be Public Interest Litigations (PIL) which could move courts into action. The courts too could initiate suo moto action to bring the guilty to book. The land which produced the greatest apostle of non-violence, Mahatma Gandhi can do without politicians who are little more than creators of mayhem.


C.V. Aravind

The writer is a Bangalore-based freelance journalist.