Raja-y Raja-y Juddho Hoy, Ulukhagorar Pran Jaay. The kings fight, the grass loses its life. There is no better way to describe Bengal today. In the 24-odd hours since election results gave Trinamool Congress a clear victory in Bengal, houses of BJP supporters have been set on fire, BJP karyakartas have been killed, the Natabari BJP candidate (winner) has had his office vandalised, an attack on his car (because of the BJP flag) has happened, phone calls after phone calls have had people crying, saying that their houses have been demolished. The Trinamool Congress is back. The big BJP leaders have all left Bengal. The khela is on. The groundworker has but nowhere to escape to.
The history of political violence in Bengal is nothing new. Congress, CPI(M), TMC, all reigns have seen bloodshed right through the poll season. Karyakartas killed, attack on opposition supporters, people shot dead, everything. This year, even the CISF was involved in a firing incident on polling day in Cooch Behar's Sitalkuchi, which left four people dead. In another incident the same day, a BJP supporter was dragged out of a poll booth and shot dead.
The Trinamool Congress is back. The big BJP leaders have all left Bengal. The khela is on. (Photo: PTI)
Yesterday, as TV studios in Delhi and Kolkata and Mumbai announced victory for Mamata Banerjee-led TMC, desperate calls for help poured in. People turned to Facebook to share photos of the destruction and plead for help. Some comparatively better-off ones also shared photos on Twitter. D-Day is followed by mayhem in Bengal.
Violence during state elections here go back a long time. But this is the first time that photos are being beamed across social media platforms as hapless helpless BJP party workers wait for achhe din. They voted for achhe din, rebranded Sonar Bangla in Bengal. In constituencies where the TMC has lost, BJP supporters have been beaten up - sometimes, even on the mere assumption that they voted for the BJP.
This violence also owes a lot to the BJP musclemen on the ground flaunting their 200-Paar slogans in the last few months. Last month, for example, on the day of polls, a TMC supporter told me that BJP folks - their friends, apparently - told them that once they come in power in Bengal, at least one from the family will be 'slaughtered'. So the TMC supporters waited. They knew central forces weren't going to be here forever. They knew the likes of PM Narendra Modi and HM Amit Shah weren't going to be here to defend people after the elections. They also knew if the BJP didn't come back in power, the khela was theirs. It was just a matter of a month.
As if right on cue, reports of vandalism and attacks on BJP karyakartas began seeping in yesterday afternoon. There were phone calls asking BJP MLAs to avoid certain areas because TMC goons were waiting to attack them en route to the counting centre. Today, even as I write this, the BJP has alleged that six people have already lost their lives in post-poll violence in Bengal. One of them was a 19-year-old boy. The BJP's Dilip Ghosh has met the Governor.
There is a stunning silence from the BJP top brass though. Even on Twitter, where the party fights a stiff battle with anyone who speaks a word against the BJP, there is no word. Some sarcastic comments are actually for the people of Bengal: "This is the Bengal you voted for; you deserve this." There is a slight miss there though. The ones who actually voted for the BJP's version of 'Sonar Bangla', are the ones facing the wrath today. The TMC supporters are safe. They have Didi behind them.
The BJP, on the other hand, is missing. No BJP national leader has come out to castigate the Trinamool government in Bengal. The Election Commission is yet to take cognisance of the deaths and rampant violence in districts where the BJP saw a sweep. In Nandigram last night, even the media was heckled. There is not one word.
The fight between the kings is over for now. A different fight is on on the ground. The grass might not make it that long.