ISSN (Print) - 0012-9976 | ISSN (Online) - 2349-8846

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Politics of Hysteria

The West Bengal government must initiate a political dialogue to resolve the Gorkhaland issue.

The cornerstone of a functioning democracy is popular participation in politics. But hysteria only threatens democracy. For democratic politics presupposes an informed citizenry; hysteria, on the contrary, promotes thoughtlessness. Today, Indian politics seems to be propelled by catchphrases meant to produce a frenzied response: cow slaughter, love jihad, black money, and, above all, “separatism.” The latter’s spectre obfuscates open-minded discussions on claims to political autonomy. The current crisis in the Darjeeling district of West Bengal is symptomatic of the shrinkage of space for democratic dialogue.

On 8 June, massive demonstrations led by Gorkha Janmukti Morcha (GJM) rocked Darjeeling as the West Bengal cabinet held its meeting in the hill town for the first time in 45 years. The trigger was Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee’s decision to make Bengali compulsory in schools across the state. However, by the time the state cabinet met in Darjeeling, Banerjee had clarified that this would not apply to the predominantly Nepali- speaking hill region. The language issue, by then, had mutated into a renewal of the demand for Gorkhaland. The government responded with its armed might. It deployed police, paramilitary forces, as well as the army to crush the protests.

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Updated On : 27th Aug, 2017
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