ET view: ET View: No room for violence and intimidation in democracy

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ET view: ET View: No room for violence and intimidation in democracy


Poll violence has claimed lives in Bengal, yet again. The continuing role of intimidation and violence in Bengal does little credit to Trinamool Congress and its leader, Mamata Banerjee, who campaigned for long, when in Opposition, positioning themselves as an alternative to the Left. Instead of providing an alternative, the new rulers of West Bengal have inserted themselves in the leading roles of an unchanged, endless play in which the masses matter only as occasional providers of legitimacy, mechanically delivered through an exercise of voting that passes itself off as democracy.

Not allowing their political opponents to file their nominations, and where that has proved difficult, resorting to violence to prevent political opponents to function freely — these got ingrained in the state’s political culture during 34 years of unbroken Left rule. The point is to change this culture, not role reversal for oppressors and victims.

The core of democracy is liberty, circumscribed only by the need to respect one’s fellow citizens’ liberty. Liberty calls for freedom from being subjected to force except at the hands of the state in a manner regulated by law. Mere conduct of periodic polls does not constitute democracy, minus such freedom from coercion, violence and fear.

It is high time India’s political parties started advancing the space of liberty in social and political life, instead of merely strutting as a Tweedledee who is better than the Tweedledum they profess to despise and seek to replace.





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