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Bengal polls 2021: Mamata says she will deal with any political violence 'sternly'

Her statements, made after taking oath as the CM, comes at a time when the Right-wing ecosystem has been concertedly campaigning for central intervention

Meghdeep Bhattacharyya Calcutta Published 06.05.21, 02:32 AM
Mamata Banerjee greets the governor after taking oath in the Raj Bhavan.

Mamata Banerjee greets the governor after taking oath in the Raj Bhavan. Pradip Sanyal

Mamata Banerjee hit the ground running after taking oath as chief minister for a third term, prioritising the pandemic and political violence for her immediate attention minutes after taking oath at 10.45am on Wednesday in the Throne Room of the historic Raj Bhavan.

The foremost priority now will be the Covid-19 situation, Mamata said in a brief statement to journalists gathered at the hall, built in 1803 under British India’s governor-general Richard Wellesley.


“I will tackle law and order from today, and deal with these (incidents of political violence) sternly… that is my second priority,” the chief minister added, referring to the clashes that have allegedly claimed 23 lives since the election results were announced on May 2.

“Everybody is being told strictly (that) not one incident of any nature will be tolerated,” Mamata said later after a meeting at Nabanna.

“I have noticed that most of the incidents have been taking place in places where the BJP won…. When the atrocities took place, the administration was under the Election Commission, not under me,” she added.

“There too, a handful of sporadic incidents (occurred). Not everything being said is true. We ran a fact-check and found out that many were fake images or footage of old incidents from elsewhere being circulated by the BJP.”

Mamata pays respects to her workplace before entering Nabanna.

Mamata pays respects to her workplace before entering Nabanna. Gautam Bose

Her statement came against the backdrop of a concerted effort by the Right-wing ecosystem to build a campaign for central intervention by making communal statements, false claims and preposterous demands, including one to trifurcate Bengal.

The Centre too has been playing to the gallery by sending a terse reminder to the Bengal government on Wednesday to submit a detailed report on the post-poll violence. The Union home ministry said the matter would be taken seriously if the state government failed to do so.

“We are not going to give respite to anybody (responsible for the political violence)… and we will do everything to restore law and order,” Mamata said at the Raj Bhavan, repeatedly urging all political parties to play their part in maintaining peace and keeping order.

“I have taken charge just now…. The police and the administration were being run for three months by the Election Commission of India,” she said, before hinting at an overhaul of the administrative set-up as the commission had made numerous changes at all levels.

“I will form a new set-up right away (and) ensure that nobody (responsible for the violence) is spared.”

Although Trinamul’s third victory at the hustings was equally – if not more – significant for the state as the first one a decade ago, the oath-taking ceremony had to be shortened to a bare minimum because of Covid. The invitees were as few as 48 and the duration 15 minutes.

The BJP, despite its state unit chief Dilip Ghosh being an invitee, boycotted the event in “protest” against the alleged atrocities on its workers. The Bengal Opposition was represented by Congress veteran Pradip Bhattacharya.

In the saffron echo chambers, a chorus has been rising for the imposition of Article 356 in Bengal. One demand has been for a trifurcation of Bengal, culling out parts that voted in favour of the BJP and giving them separate BJP-led governments.

There have also been calls from the Right-wing Twitterati for Prime Minister Narendra Modi to step aside -– for being “too soft” or “too inclusive” – and allow Union home minister Amit Shah or Uttar Pradesh chief minister Yogi Adityanath to seize the reins and teach “Bengalistan” or “West Bangladesh” a lesson.

There have been calls for an invasion of the state by central paramilitary forces and for far-Right outfits such as the Bajrang Dal being given a free hand.

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