KOLKATA: MAY 15
BJP chief Amit Shah today launched a fresh attack on West Bengal Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee over violence during his roadshow in Kolkata on Tuesday. He said Trinamool Congress workers vandalised an iconic statue of 19th century reformer Ishwar Chandra Vidyasagar and pinned it on the BJP to dirty the party’s image.
Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee’s Trinamool and the BJP accuse each other of smashing the statue, which is one of the most evocative symbols of renaissance in Bengal. The BJP has taken the fight to Delhi, complaining to the Election Commission and also planning a protest. Mamata Banerjee pledged a reply to what she call a “huge shame” as her party men added Vidyasagar’s image to their Twitter accounts.
“This was not violence; this was an attack… There is no need for President’s rule, the people will end their rule,” Amit Shah told reporters this morning. “We have been holding rallies across the country, but it’s only in Bengal that violence breaks out.
Why? Because of TMC,” Mr Shah said, calling the clashes an attempt by the Trinamool Congress to strangle democracy. His “Save Republic” rally in the day offered a spectacle Kolkata had never seen – complete with saffron balloons and artistes dressed as Lord Ram and Hanuman dancing to “Jai Shri Ram” chants, and 10,000 kg of marigold petals.
The BJP has asked the Election Commission to ban Mamata Banerjee from campaigning for the last phase of the national election; nine of Bengal’s 42 seats will vote on May 19. The party will also protest in Delhi.
Mamata Banerjee, on the other hand, will take out a march on the same route that Amit Shah’s roadshow took last evening, on College Street, past the Calcutta University and Vidyasagar College.
The violence started on Tuesday evening at the gates of Calcutta University. Some students in the campus allegedly shouted anti-BJP slogans and BJP supporters rushed at them with rods. Policemen stepped in to prevent a clash.
As Amit Shah’s van passed by Vidyasagar College, students holding up “Go Back Amit Shah” posters were attacked by saffron-wearing men — allegedly BJP supporters — who are on camera.
The men rushed into the campus, set motorcycles on fire and vandalised the bust of Ishwar Chandra Vidyasagar.
“What does Amit Shah think of himself? Is he above everything? Is he God that no one can protest against him?” said a furious Mamata Banerjee. “His goons used rods and set fire, vandalized the statue. Such a big shame, it has never happened in Kolkata. We will not spare them and respond inch by inch.”
Senior Trinamool Congress leader Derek O’Brien tweeted: “Desperate BJP goons from outside Bengal smash statue of Ishwar Chandra Vidyasagar inside the college. Violent mob of BJP ‘outsiders’ in presence of Pukeworthy Shah.
How little you know about Bengal, its rich history, its culture. Bengal will never forgive for what you did today.”
Accusing the ruling Trinamool Congress of engineering the violence, Amit Shah alleged that 60 BJP workers had been killed during the panchayat polls and the Tuesday violence was also an attempt to “influence” the election.
“Mamata Didi’s goons were frustrated by the crowds at the roadshow and tried to cause a stampede.
I appear to the people of Bengal to throw out the Trinamool,” he said. The bitter fight for Bengal’s 42 seats has seen a vitriolic campaign and violence in every round of voting in the state. Even today, PM Modi is to address rallies at Basirhat and Diamond Harbour.