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Brotherly hate - The Telegraph

Editorial ()
June 3, 1998

Title: Brotherly hate
Author: Editorial
Publication: The Telegraph
Date: June 3, 1998

If bullying is allowed to go unchecked, it will inevitably take
extremely violent and self-destructive forms. The horror of what
happened in Basanti in West Bengal acquires a different dimension
when the violence is seen as fratricidal, in a manner of
speaking. There have been numerous allegations of violence and
bullying made against Communist Party of India (Marxist) workers.
That such violence should be directed against the supporters of a
coalition partner, the Revolutionary Socialist Party, is shocking
in itself. The reported details of the burning, looting, hacking
and torture suggest that there was little human feeling, let
alone feelings of political partnership, among the intruders.
Rivalry among workers on the lower rungs of the different parties
in the Left Front Is not a new phenomenon. Sporadic incidents
springing from discontent at the lower levels undermine the
appearance of unity the Left Front presents. But the post-
panchayat poll violence in Basanti is a first in Intensity and
level of organization.

There is more than one history to this incident. One is to do
with the internal politics of the front. In the recent panchayat
elections, the RSP won for itself seats that were earlier held by
the CPI(M). The truth or falsity of the allegation that the RSP
had forged a stealthy understanding with the Trinamool Congress
in the area is immaterial. Political disloyalty was hardly the
issue. The intensity of the violence suggests that the only
thing at issue here was power. The implications are alarming. If
such rage is the consequence of power being taken away by a
coalition partner, it would be natural to question the nature of
the power that rural political leaders enjoy But there is also
another history. It is the history of the growing unruliness, of
CPI(M) workers who are seldom penalized for bullying and
intimidating ordinary people, presumably for their party's
interests. One extreme case was the death of Kashinath Golui just
before the 12th Lok Sabha elections which, though accidental, was
caused by people who identified themselves as CPI(M) workers.
Given the simmering rivalries among the coalition partners at the
lower levels, an increase in violence will soon begin to rupture
the Left Front's carefully nurtured appearance of unity.


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