Kolkata: BJP and TMC on Wednesday traded charges accusing each other of letting loose violence during Amit Shah’s roadshow in Kolkata on Tuesday even as West Bengal Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee took out a 7-km-long protest march in the state capital.
The two parties also blamed each other over the vandalisation of the statue of social reformer Ishwar Chandra Vidyasagar in a college named after him during Shah’s roadshow.
The day started with the BJP president Shah addressing a press conference in Delhi where he displayed some photos claiming proof of involvement of TMC students wing in the destruction of the statue.
He also claimed that the keys to the gate of the college were with the TMC students and that BJP workers had no access to them.
The BJP chief also claimed that he would not have been able to escape from the scene of the violence had the CRPF not been deployed.
Shah accused the state police and the Election Commission of being a mute spectator.
“The Election Commission if just a silent spectator. It should intervene. In West Bengal, history-sheeters are allowed to roam free at the time of elections by giving a bond which is contrary to the practice elsewhere. I appeal to the Election Commission to at least ensure a free and fair election in the last phase in the state,” he said.
Hitting back at Shah, TMC leader Derek O’Brien accused BJP of bringing activists from outside West Bengal to foment violence.
He accused the central forces of working in “cahoots” with BJP in the state. He showed pictures of state BJP president Dilip Ghosh being seen with personnel of the central force to corroborate his charge.
“There were slogans like ‘Vidyasagar shesh (finished), where is the josh (pride),” O-Brien said.
He dismissed Shah’s remarks that the BJP men did not have keys to the college, saying it was a child’s argument. “They climbed the walls and gates to engage in vandalism,” he said.
The two parties also approached the Election Commission in the matter.
Defence Minister Nirmala Sitharaman headed a BJP delegation to complain about TMC while O-Brief led a four-member MP’s delegation to give evidence of BJP’s involvement in the violence.
Prime Minister Narendra Modi addressed election rallies in Bengal and attacked Mamata Banerjee, accusing her of nurturing the culture of violence in the state and attempting to crush BJP.
Uttar Pradesh Chief Minister Yogi Adityanath also joined the chorus of attack against TMC and the West Bengal government. Alleging politicisation of the administration in Bengal, he said that there was a need for “intervention” in the state.
BJP also held protests in different parts of the country against violence during Shah’s roadshow.
Unfazed by the BJP blitzkrieg, Banerjee took out a roadshow in Kolkata accompanied by cadres of TMC who shouted slogans protesting against BJP. They alleged that BJP was trying to communalise the atmosphere in the state.
In Kolkata, BJP Rajya Sabha member Roopa Ganguly accused TMC of creating disruptions during Shah’s roadshow, saying that protest is allowed in a democracy, but “throwing stones is not a protest”.
Senior Congress leader Ahmed Patel condemned the smashing the statue of Vidyasagar, terming the act as an insult to the people of West Bengal.
Taking to Twitter, Patel wrote: “We condemn the destruction of Ishwar Chandra Vidyasagar’s statue. This insult to the people of Bengal by BJP will never be forgiven. Greed for power will see the BJP dismantle every icon of Bengal, their legacy and the culture that they helped build.”
BJP workers held a silent protest at Jantar Mantar in the national capital against the Kolkata violence. Many top leaders of the party including Union Minister Harsh Vardhan, Jitendra Singh and Vijay Goel, were seen sitting with a finger on their lips, holding placards that read – ‘Save Bengal, Save Democracy.’ The leaders also wore black bands as a mark of protest.