Who will bell this cat?


Violence in Indian politics is here to stay. Ironically, those who incite violence with their words and deeds, often have the tacit sanction of the party leaders, who feel this helps in widening their electoral support and party base. In such a case, will any political party try and bell this cat?

Indian politicians 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. A vast majority hunger after the loaves and fishes of power and have no qualms when it comes to looting the exchequer and building cosy nest eggs for themselves. Some politicians are not averse to stoking the fires of communalism and creating religious divides.

Yet, the politician who spells disaster for the nation is the one who preaches the doctrine of violence and when caught out, tenders an insincere apology and gets away scot-free. In recent times, a video of a hate speech by actor turned politician Tapas Paul , a Lok Sabha MP of the Trinamool Congress created a furore wherein he threatened to send his ‘boys’ (meaning the party cadres) to rape the womenfolk of the CPM, the opposing party. He has also allegedly advised women to use their kitchen knives to slit throats and the men to chop CPM men to pieces. This kind of bloodcurdling rhetoric takes us back to the medieval times when laws to tackle crime were conspicuous by their absence. There has been no debate on the authenticity of the videos that have surfaced, but it is the muted reaction of the party’s leader Mamata Banerjee, the CM of West Bengal and a one-time staunch fighter for human rights that has taken everyone by surprise. The party has allowed the matter to rest after an unconditional apology by the offender! It is alleged that his outburst has earned him brownie points with his leader! 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 i 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 party men. It is indeed a pathetic situation where criminals in the garb of politicians are able to ply their trade without fear of consequences. With public memory being short, many of these crimes are soon forgotten and those who indulged in them and have not been hauled up before the law become emboldened to begin all over again. 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 (PILs) 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. The citizens of the country should be eternally vigilant of this destructive breed.


C.V. Aravind

The writer is a Bangalore-based freelance journalist.