Srinagar, March 13 -- Political parties often find it hard to control their over-enthusiastic supporters. For, they rely on them to go out and campaign, swell the crowds at party rallies and generally keep the morale of the faithful high. Yet, very often these very supporters indulge in acts which leave the leadership squirming in embarrassment. The ruling parties are prone to suffer from the excesses of the party supporters the most, especially following an electoral win. That is what explains the acts of vandalism and violence by the supporters of the new victors in Tripura.

The BJP and its ally, the Indigenous People's Front of Tripura, which together ousted the CPI(M), which was in power for 25 years, have failed to control the party cadres who have targeted the CPI(M) members and pulled down the statue of the Communist icon, Vladimir Lenin. Such acts of vandalism are deplorable. (Of course, it is a scandal that we continue to have statues of blood-soaked red leaders like Lenin).

The attacks on the Marxist supporters and the party's offices in Tripura could be ascribed to the over-enthusiasm of the victors. But pulling down the statue of Lenin was wholly uncalled for. In a democratic system, victory and defeat are part of the electoral cycle and these should not lead to chaos and anarchy. Peaceful change of power should be the accepted norm, not acts of lawlessness and vandalism by the victors. It is, therefore, welcome that Prime Minister Modi has condemned the violence in Tripura and asked the cadres to desist from unruly behaviour.

In Tamilnadu a senior BJP leader triggeredserious trouble with his silly tweet (later deleted) on maverick Dravidian leader Periyar E V Ramasamy. This invited an immediate barrage of angry reaction from leaders of various Dravidian parties and from even common people. Sensing the angry reaction from virtually the entire political spectrum, and a strong condemnation by the BJP leadership, Raja sought to blame his 'admin' for the FB post. Raja's words were stupid and do not win any friends for the BJP. Such needless provocations vitiate the atmosphere for peaceful political discourse. BJP is not much of a player in Tamilnadu. And now it may have hurt itself further.

The opposition parties have attributed the attacks to supporters of the governing Bharatiya Janata Party, emboldened after a landslide victory in state elections in the country's northeast last weekend.The opposition parties say the backers of B.J.P. and its allies foster a climate of intolerance and target other Hindus who oppose them, as well as religious minorities such as Muslims.

Even as the Prime Minister Narendra Modi, issued a strong condemnation on Wednesday of the vandalism, promising swift retribution against the vandals, no matter their affiliation, some BJP leaders endorsed the attacks and Tripura governor Tathagatha Roy tweeted, apropos of the anti-Lenin iconoclasm, that a newly elected government can undo the work of a previous government. It's noteworthy, however, that a new government has yet to be installed in Tripura. Moreover, if every new government takes it upon itself to pull down old statues and erect new ones, what's to prevent another government of the opposing ideology from pulling down your icons to put up its own?

That is precisely the bizarre situation we are witnessing at present. An even more relevant question is why are we, as a nation, so obsessed with pulling down old statues and putting up new ones when there are far more pressing problems confronting us in the present: such as eliminating poverty, generating jobs for the millions of young people being added to the workforce every year, dealing with security challenges posed by the China-Pakistan axis. Do dead icons matter more than living people?

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