It seems that a significant section of the ruling TMC in West Bengal is more interested in the uninterrupted supply of liquor than in combating COVID 19.
Last week, Bengal was abuzz with news that the State administration will ensure home delivery of liquor bottles on request. Some television channels and portals made breaking news of the decision. The Kolkata Police later stalled this decision of the State Government. Immediately after this, on the day of Bengali New Year, a bizarre incident occurred when two factions of the ruling party fought over a few bottles of liquor in broad daylight.
This incident occurred only 2 km away from the official residence of Bengal’s Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee in the heart of South Kolkata, a stronghold of TMC.
On that afternoon, it was noticed that a few motorcycles were chasing a red SUV in the Lake Market area of the city. The driver sought the help of the Lake Market police at one point. However, before he or the police could do anything, the motorcyclists had successfully unlocked the boot space of the SUV and fled with the bottles of liquor.
Manoj Ghosh, the owner of the SUV and a construction contractor in South Kolkata, is also known to be a close associate of an influential TMC leader of the area. Ghosh complained and was seen lamenting that the bottles he had acquired from a shop near Priya Cinema Hall on Manoharpukur Road for thirty per cent more than the market price were snatched from his custody.
The Tollygunge Police Station later rescued him. The owner of the liquor shop, Soumitro Saha, had opened his shop to favour Manoj Ghosh under the instructions of the TMC leader of that area.
Saha apparently had the excuse of puja being done in his shop on the occasion of the Bengali New Year. As news spread that he was selling liquor to a favoured few, more people started gathering in search of alcohol. Disappointed, a section of them went to demonstrate in front of the house of the Mayor-in-Council; a few other bikers started chasing Manoj and his SUV.
The Kolkata Police DC, Debasmita Das, did not want to comment on the incident.
The pertinent question is, how could Soumitra Saha defy the lockdown orders and open his shop on that day? It is also to be noted that no police case was registered against Saha despite his open defiance of the law. Finally, the brawl of the two factions of TMC over liquor during the lockdown and on the first day of the Bengali new year exposes the law and order situation and the current political culture of the State.