Expressing concern over the “unprecedented rise in attacks on women” in West Bengal, Communist Party of India (Marxist) general secretary Prakash Karat said here on Wednesday that the issue was compounded by the attitude of Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee, who was adopting a “short-sighted and pernicious approach.”

“Earlier if was denied that any such thing was taking place. Now she [Ms. Banerjee] is saying that the media is exaggerating and glorifying incidents of rape,” Mr. Karat said at a function to observe the foundation day of the party.

Mr. Karat said that at the national level, attacks on women was becoming a matter of growing concern, pointing out that 19 rapes were reported in Harayana in one month. The situation had arisen as a result of medieval regressive values as expressed by the khap panchayats and the “glorification of market values and the commodification of women” in the consumerist culture, he said.

He said the attacks on women in West Bengal is “a serious problem that has emerged” and must be tackled without politicising the issue.

“West Bengal is considered to be relatively a more enlightened society with regard to the attitude towards women, the status of women and the social values that have been there over a long period of time,” he said.

Commenting on the situation prevailing in the State, Mr. Karat said that communists were under attack in two ways — everyday supporters and party workers were being maimed and killed, and an attempt had been made to “imitate” the CPI (M) and steal its slogans.

Drawing a parallel with Kerala, Mr. Karat said that ever since the first communist government was formed in the State in 1957, even the leaders of the Congress raise issues that had been raised by the communists.

“Congress politics forever changed in Kerala. No Congressman in Kerala will take the stand that land reform is not necessary. No Congressman will take the stand that the big bourgeoisie will be allowed to come in Kerala,” Mr. Karat said, adding that the stand taken by Kerala Chief Minister Oomen Chandy to not allow FDI in retail in the State is “not surprising.”

Similarly, Mr. Karat said that the long time the Left Front was in power in West Bengal had forced the Trinamool Congress to adopt a stand against FDI in retail.