In a highly religiously and politically polarised national environment, West Bengal’s Karangpara village, housed inside the small steel producing town of Durgapur has managed to remain both agnostic and apolitical owing to a unique tradition which even predates the nation’s independence from colonial Britain in 1947. Even during Bengal’s election, the village was devoid of any political colour. The village has reportedly witnessed the lack of a single festoon flag, banner or wall writing of any political party in this village in its history. Every resident from this village be it youngsters or the village elders continue to abide by this tradition.
What Drives this Tradition?
Residents of Karangpara have aimed to build a village that is truly non-religious and apolitical, this is what credit for the peace and harmony in the village. Neel Nayak, a resident, Karangpara, said, “Because there is no party politics there is no infighting between the people in this village. We live in unity. If anything happens to anyone in the area, everyone goes for help without looking at their political allegiance.”
What about Politics in Karangpara?
Political parties, over the years have respected the village tradition and have limited their campaigns to nearby markets. Karangpara residents participate in the election process by casting their vote on election day by assembling in large numbers. The village has produced four councilors and two Members of Legislative Assembly’s (MLA), all of whom adhered to Karangpara’s tradition during their campaign.
What Happens if one Breaks Village Tradition?
During the Bengal elections, a Bhartiya Janata Party (BJP) candidate had entered Karangpara however, he was requested to leave and was asked to issue the villagers an apology. Chandra Shekhar Banerjee, Chairman of the Durgapur Municipal Corporation (DMC), said, “During an election rally in Durgapur market, a car entered by mistake. For that myself and other party members from the village, including the candidate gave a written apology to the heads of the village.” Karangpara has emerged as an ideal example for West Bengal, which has been notorious for being engulfed in election related violence