Cornering one's political rival with the allegation of violence and bloodshed is a time-tested strategy of all major parties in West Bengal. However, the BJP’s act of conducting “mass tarpan” on Saturday, for party workers killed in alleged political violence, is the just the latest instance of the saffron party’s politics over the dead.
According to the state BJP leadership, 80 BJP workers lost their lives in political violence in West Bengal. However, the sombre ritual of offering prayers for the deceased was transformed into a political event, with full media presence.
BJP working president J P Nadda’s speech at the event mostly comprised of potshots at West Bengal Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee and the Trinamool Congress (TMC), rather than the measures his party has taken to help family members of the slain party workers.
The timing of the event, which is being held within a couple of months of BJP’s success in Bengal in the Lok Sabha elections, also raises several questions about its objective.
Speaking to DH, noted political observer Maidul Islam said that the Left Front and the TMC also indulged in such political battles over the dead, but BJP’s move of holding mass tarpan is rather unheard of in Bengal.
“Involving such sombre religious rituals in politics is rather unique in Bengal,” said Islam, a faculty member of the Centre for Studies in Social Sciences.
Not one to be left behind, during the day, TMC minister Shyamal Santra also conducted tarpan for TMC workers allegedly killed during the Left Front era and by the BJP.
This is not the first time the saffron party has resorted to such tactics.
Earlier this month, the state BJP leadership got into a tug-of-war with the police, over the body of party workers allegedly killed in political violence.
While the BJP and the worker’s family, from Birbhum district, demanded that the bodies be taken to the state BJP headquarters for party workers to pay homage, the police did not allow it, arguing that it may create a law and order situation.
Controversy erupted when police took the body and whisked it away to Birbhum, allegedly without the family members’ consent.
The incident turned into a media spectacle.
Now, it remains to be seen whether the BJP’s ‘mass tarpan’ for slain party workers turns out to be of any help to their families or will end up as just another media-tailored spectacle organised by the party.