Political parties often find it hard to control their over-enthusiastic supporters. For, they rely on them to go out and campaign, swell the crowds at party rallies and generally keep the morale of the faithful high. Yet, very often these very supporters indulge in acts which leave the leadership squirming in embarrassment. The ruling parties are prone to suffer from the excesses of the party supporters the most, especially following an electoral win. That is what explains the acts of vandalism and violence by the supporters of the new victors in Tripura.
The BJP and its ally, the Indigenous Peoples’ Front of Tripura, which together ousted the CPI(M), which was in power for 25 years, have failed to control the party cadres who have targeted the CPI(M) members and pulled down the statue of the Communist icon, Vladimir Lenin. Such acts of vandalism are deplorable. It is true some of this may be the outcome of the pent-up anger against Marxist excesses under the Manik Sarkar government. As in West Bengal when they were in power, the Marxists cadres have a habit of ruling the roast, intimidating and bullying the ordinary people and especially targeting members of the opposition parties.
The attacks on the Marxist supporters and the party’s offices in Tripura could be ascribed to the over-enthusiasm of the victors. But pulling down the statue of Lenin was wholly uncalled for. Worse, the virtual justification of the act of vandalism by the State Governor, Tathagata Roy, makes it worse. He said what one regime had done can be undone by the next one. Such nonsense coming from the head of the State is unacceptable. But, then, this is not the first time Roy has breached the norms and proprieties of the gubernatorial office to utter highly controversial sentiments. Also, the BJP General Secretary Ram Madhav betrayed a lack of understanding of the constitutional ethos when he too endorsed the post-win acts of violence in Tripura.
In a democratic system, victory and defeat are part of the electoral cycle and these should not lead to chaos and anarchy. Peaceful change of power should be the accepted norm, not acts of lawlessness and vandalism by the victors. It is, therefore, welcome that Prime Minister Modi has condemned the violence in Tripura and asked the cadres to desist from unruly behaviour. Home Minister Rajnath Singh has directed the police in the State to take stern action against the miscreants while rushing additional forces to control the situation. The BJP ought to be conscious that it pulled off an electoral coup of sorts in Tripura by promising jobs to the local youths, by assuring the government staff the Seventh Pay Commission salaries and by promising to expand educational facilities. All these promises require money, hard work and a commitment to deliver. Instead of concerning itself with the huge challenge of governance, the atmosphere of fear and intimidation can be hardly conducive for good governance.
Meanwhile, a senseless BJP leader, one H Raja, triggered fresh trouble in Tamil Nadu with his idiotic tweet denigrating the social reformer Periyar E V Ramasamy. This invited an immediate barrage of angry reaction from leaders of various Dravida parties and from even common people. Probably instigated by the party leader’s tweet, a BJP worker sought to disfigure the statue of Periyar. Sensing the angry reaction from virtually the entire political spectrum, and a strong condemnation by the BJP leadership, Raja sought to blame his aides for posting the tweet. Knowing how Periyar is held high by the Dravida parties, regardless of the controversial and questionable nature of some of his words and actions, Raja’s gratuitous denigration of the Periyar was sheer folly. Such needless provocations vitiate the atmosphere for peaceful political discourse. BJP is not much of a player in Tamil Nadu. By abusing the icon of the Dravida politics, it may have hurt itself further.