Kolkata, May 2 (IANS) West Bengal may be one of the states recording the largest number of crimes against women, but the ongoing assembly elections have thrown up a diametrically opposite image with some of the heavyweight female politicians being at their combative best, or worst.
Repeatedly threatening opponents and polling officers, assaulting rivals, sending out orders to drive away opposition agents, and falling foul of the long arm of the law in the process, the brigade of women leaders and candidates have sent political temperatures soaring almost in competition with the rising mercury.
The first woman chief minister of the state, the mercurial Mamata Banerjee, has virtually led the way in aggression. She vowed to teach lesson to the opposition “inch by inch” for its constant attacks on her on issues related to corruption and went all guns blazing at the Election Commission (EC).
Unrelenting in her belligerence, towards the end of the campaign, Banerjee – despite also being the home minister – even threatened a section of “coward” police officers that they will have to suffer “for creating pandemonium” and declaring prohibitory orders on polling day.
Banerjee’s close associate and deputy speaker of West Bengal assembly Sonali Guha, infamous for her acerbic tongue, went a step further.
In the full glare of television cameras, she was seen shouting orders to her supporters over the phone during the fifth phase polling on Saturday to “thrash and drive out the CPI-M agent”.
Reacting quickly, the EC got a first information report (FIR) filed agains Guha, who is defending her Satgachhia assembly constituency in South 24 Parganas district
In an indication of what political attire could do to even soft-spoken individuals, Vaishali Dalmiya, a political greenhorn and daughter of late BCCI and ICC supremo Jagmohan Dalmiya, was seen threatening a CPI-M woman activist during an argument.
“You don’t know the stuff I am made up of”, thundered Dalmiya, contesting on a Trinamool ticket from the Bally constituency in Howrah.
Rupa Ganguly, BJP candidate and “Draupadi” of the 1980s mega serial “Mahabharat”, fell foul of the authorities when she “assaulted” a woman Trinamool Congress supporter during the fourth phase of polling on April 25. Ganguly, a candidate from Howrah North, reportedly lost her cool after hearing a barrage of invectives from Trinamool activists.
The EC responded by lodging an FIR against Ganguly, who surrendered before a court and was granted bail.
Another actor-turned-politician, Locket Chatterjee, in the poll fray from Mayureswar in Bribhum district, was seen threatening and scolding a presiding officer. Pointing her finger at him, Chatterjee almost ordered him to admit that the booth had been rigged. As the cornered officer feebly denied any such irregularity, Chatterjee dared him to repeat his comment which “I will capture on my mobile and send to the Election Commission”.
An FIR was later filed against her. “for discourteous behavior” and “disrupting polling.”
Shaswati Ghosh, a woman activist, disapproved of the behavior of the women leaders.
“Any kind of aggression by either male or female candidates is not expected. If aggression is their way of making their presence felt then it is really disappointing,” Ghosh told IANS.
As per the latest National Crimes Record Bureau statistics, the incidence of crimes against women was 11 per cent in West Bengal and Uttar Pradesh – among the highest in 2014.