West Bengal Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee was rushed to SSKM Hospital in Kolkata on Wednesday after she was allegedly attacked while campaigning in Nandigram hours after she filed her nomination.
Banerjee claimed she was heckled by at least 4-5 men while she was interacting with locals in Birulia Bazar, East Midnapore.
A senior police officer said, “She was interacting with the local villagers at Birulia Bazar when suddenly the situation became chaotic around 6.28 PM due to a section of men present at the spot and she fell down. It all happened suddenly."
“Her security guards rushed and helped her get into the backseat. She told her security guards that she suffered a severe leg injury and also complained of chest pain,” they said.
According to eyewitnesses, the incident took place at around 6.15 pm when Banerjee was about to leave Birulia area near Reyapara after praying at a local temple. She was apparently standing outside her car with the door open. She told reporters later that she was ‘praying from there on spotting a temple’.
Suddenly, a few men rushed towards her and pushed the car’s door into her. She fell down and the door rammed into her left leg.
Her leg was completely swollen, and she is also feeling feverish, besides having chest pain, sources told News18.
While getting into the backseat of her car, Banerjee - who was gasping heavily - told media persons, “Look at my leg. There is swelling. I am feeling feverish. Please leave me alone now…I am having chest pain…not feeling well. I want to go to Kolkata for treatment.”
“It was a planned attack on me. It was a conspiracy. The attack was planned well as there were no policemen around me. There were a couple of men in the crowd who pushed the door of my car and left me badly injured. Please allow me to go to a hospital,” she said.
Soon after the incident, a 130-km green corridor stretch was created and the chief minister was rushed to the SSKM College and Hospital at around 8.45 pm in Kolkata. A medical board of four doctors was formed and she was taken to the emergency ward for examination. A battery of tests were conducted and she was administered painkillers intravenously. Sources informed that the CM had fortunately not sustained an ankle fracture.
Soon after the news broke, TMC workers across the state hit the streets and raised slogans against BJP for conspiring to kill Banerjee.
Top TMC leaders including her nephew Abhishek Banerjee, Derek O’Brien, Sukhendu Shekhar Roy, Dr Shantanu Sen, Subrata Bakshi rushed to the hospital to inquire about her health.
There was chaos in front of SSKM College and Hospital when West Bengal Governor Jagdeep Dhankar rushed to meet the chief minister.
A large number of TMC supporters raised slogans against Dhankhar and threatened to teach BJP a lesson for attacking ‘mother Mamata’.
Concerned over the incident, the Election Commission has sought a report from the local administration of Purba Medinipur.
News agency ANI reported that according to an eyewitness called Suman Maity, Mamata had been surrounded by a throng of people at the time she got injured. “When she came here, the public gathered around her and she got hurt in her neck and leg," the student said. When asked whether she was pushed, he replied “no" and said their car had been moving slowly at the time of the incident.
Exclusive footage obtained by CNN-News18 from Birulia Bazaar where Banerjee was greeting supporters showed serious lapses in her security arrangements. Her security in-charge can be seen as the only person attempting to keep the crowd at bay.
Banerjee had gone to East Midnapore to file her nomination to contest from Nandigram for the upcoming elections.
BJP MP, Barrackpore, Arjun Singh questioned, “Mamata Banerjee is lying to gain sympathy. She is surrounded by 300 policemen…I want to know how she was attacked? Is it Taliban that her convoy was attacked? The policemen should be suspended first. I remember during Nandigram movement, she had claimed that a bullet hit her car. Then also she lied. It is her drama to gain sympathy.”
BJP leader Swapan Dasgupta tweeted, “We pray for @MamataOfficial’s speedy recovery from her foot injury. If she requires additional Central security, the Home Ministry will certainly provide it.”
Congress leader Manish Tewari strongly condemned the attack and tweeted, “Violence has no place in politics. Wish her a speedy recovery.”
Former chief minister of Uttar Pradesh Akhilesh Yadav too condemned the ‘attack’ and demanded a high-level investigation into the matter.
Earlier, during many occasions, Mamata had claimed that the state security agencies have enough evidence to substantiate that there is a bigger conspiracy to kill her.
On April 28, 2019, Mamata alleged the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) may kill her any day for their political interest, and claim after that it was an accident.
Addressing a public meeting at Nimtouri in East Midnapore, Banerjee had said, “They can kill me any day. After killing me, they will say that it was an accident. But, I would like to tell them that I am not scared. If they kill me, my ‘ma, maati, manush’ (mother, motherland and people) would fight back.”
On May 11, 2018, in an interview with a regional television channel, she claimed that a contract killer was hired by a political party against her and accordingly, she had prepared a ‘political will’ on who would take forward the mantle of the Trinamool’s leadership after her.
“I have information that they have given money, which they call in their language ‘supari’ to kill me. They have done a recce of the Kalighat area where I stay. There is a serious threat issue and the police are aware of it. They are working on this lead and have requested me to change my Kalighat house. But I will not do so. There are people who wanted to alienate me from the masses, but I will not bow down to such threats,” she had said.
“Considering the threat factor, today I am sharing this that I have already prepared a ‘political will’ specifying who would do what after me. I have set up a team in my party to look after the Trinamool Congress and work for the development of Bengal. Those who are trying to kill me will never succeed in hampering the state’s development,” she had added.
Earlier, on 16 August, 1990, Mamata survived a fatal attack after a CPIM cadre Lalu Alam hit on the head with a stick during a rally at Hazra Crossing in Kolkata. The impact fractured her skull and left her fighting for her life in the hospital for over a month.
Nandigram is the prestige battle for Mamata because she demolished the Left Front rule in Bengal while riding high on its anti-land acquisition movements – which have left the ‘Left’ insignificant in the state’s politics.
Assembly Elections in Bengal will be held in eight phases between March 27 and April 29. The results will be declared on May 2.