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Onus to change Bengal’s political violence culture rests with its leaders: TMC star nominee Dev

Speaking exclusively to PTI in the aftermath of the fourth phase of polls where the ugly, albeit familiar, picture of poll-related violence returned to haunt certain pockets of Bengal after a relatively peaceful first three phases, Dipak Adhikari claimed he has initiated such changes from his home constituency of Ghatal in the state's West Midnapore district.
Last Updated : 15 May 2024, 06:58 IST
Last Updated : 15 May 2024, 06:58 IST

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Jhargram: There is a dire need to change the culture of political violence in West Bengal and its prime responsibility rests with the state's political leaders, said Trinamool Congress superstar candidate and aspiring MP for third term Dipak Adhikari aka Dev.

Speaking exclusively to PTI in the aftermath of the fourth phase of polls where the ugly, albeit familiar, picture of poll-related violence returned to haunt certain pockets of Bengal after a relatively peaceful first three phases, Adhikari claimed he has initiated such changes from his home constituency of Ghatal in the state's West Midnapore district.

"Of course, I am concerned with the reported incidents of violence,' Dev said, 'That’s why I strictly stay away from using abusive language during my campaigns. I never say anything which could instigate my followers to fight, what's supposed to be a political battle, by physical means. I think the responsibility primarily lies with the political leaders to dissuade their workers from indulging in violence. This is as much true for Bengal as for the rest of the country."

The actor-leader was speaking after his road show in Jhargram in support of TMC candidate and Padma Shri awardee Kalipada Soren.

While scattered incidents of violence from Durgapur and Birbhum were reported throughout the day during the polls on Monday, some resulting from clashes between TMC and BJP supporters with workers on both sides and at least one security personnel of BJP candidate Dilip Ghosh injured, a TMC worker was found murdered in Ketugram, Birbhum barely hours ahead of the polls.

"Both leaders and their followers need to change. Voters should vote for those who are deserving and who would bring about a change in their lives. They should vote for leaders who respect people and not for those who talk rubbish on stage," Dev said.

"I may not be able to change the world, but if I can change myself and if people can see that change in me and learn something, I think my job is done," he continued.

Told how pleasantly the day began during Monday's polls when the two opposing candidates of the Burdwan-Durgapur seat, Dilip Ghosh and TMC's Kirti Azad, were seen greeting and hugging each other during a chance meeting and how quickly that deteriorated into the alleged attacks on the BJP candidate's convoy and clashes with police, Dev said he too was saddened with the developments.

"I think a wrong message has gone to workers at the grassroots. I believe the leaders will first have to decide and bring about a change in their behaviour, and the way they speak and conduct themselves in public. Only then can they hope to find some resonance to those from the people on the ground," he maintained.

Adhikari insisted that political leaders should first spread the message of friendship between workers' irrespective of their political affiliation.

"That aspect is lacking. A BJP supporter encountering a TMC candidate inevitably shouts Jai Shri Ram and there are Joy Bangla slogans when the vice versa happens. The acrimony starts spreading from there. We should stop this first and start from the basics. The message should be loud and clear that we are not here to fight a war. It’s just a political battle and whoever wins would be spreading love in the first place," the incumbent MP said.

Dev declared that he has sent out a "strict message" to TMC workers in his home constituency not to shout such slogans, not even Joy Bangla, if they come face to face with their BJP counterparts during campaigns.

"I am trying to propagate a new political culture in Ghatal which is perhaps different from what's happening in the rest of the seats in the state," he said.

Talking of the 18 seats which have already polled in Bengal, the Tollygunge superstar, however, predicted a confident win for the Trinamool Congress.

"Psephology is not exactly my area of expertise. But I must have visited at least 14 of the 18 seats which went to the polls and my takeaway is extremely positive. I think we will be way ahead this time compared to what our number of seats was in 2019," he said.

Asked if was enjoying poll campaigns despite his initial reluctance to join the poll fray, Dev said he realised that people have begun taking him seriously only now. Which is why, he said, he wants to finish what he started before hanging up his boots.

"The vibe I am getting from people this year is the trust they are reposing in me, which is a rare thing in politics. They think that someone like me should be in politics. Right from my involvement with the Ghatal Master Plan for mitigating flood impact in my constituency to the way I am conducting myself in public life, I think people have started taking me seriously only this year although I have been in politics for a decade," he said.

Adhikari defended his party needing his 'star power' to reach out to voters in a tribal belt like Jhargram by stating there's nothing wrong with that move.

"I think I am also a star campaigner of the party. Like Didi and Abhishek, I am also going to most of the seats of the state. If I can be of help to even one seat or a candidate, then why not?" Dev argued.

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Published 15 May 2024, 06:58 IST

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