Kolkata Remains on the Edge as TMC & BJP Blame Each Other for Violence, Desecration of Vidyasagar's Statue
BJP and TMC supporters on Tuesday fought pitched battles on the streets of Kolkata during a massive road show by Amit Shah, who was forced to cut short the jamboree and had to be escorted to safety by police.
Police personnel look on near vehicles burnt by a mob during BJP president Amit Shah's roadshow for the last phase of Lok Sabha polls in Kolkata on Tuesday. (Image credit: PTI)
New Delhi: A war of words ensued between the Bharatiya Janata Party and Trinamool Congress a day after violence and arson marred BJP president Amit Shah's road show in Kolkata.
While Trinamool Congress has sought a meeting with the Election Commission on the issue, a Bharatiya Janata Party delegation urged the poll panel to bar West Bengal Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee from campaigning in the state and alleged that "constitutional machinery" has collapsed there.
Shah on Wednesday accused the Trinamool Congress of indulging in violence in the state and alleged that the EC has been a "mute spectator". "The BJP is contesting polls in all states. There has been no violence. But there has been violence in West Bengal as TMC is contesting elections there ... it is simple," he said.
Shah also accused TMC "goons" of vandalising the bust of Ishwar Chandra Vidyasagar inside a college, saying it was done to gain "sympathy" as the Mamata Banerjee-led party has realised its "reverse count" has begun.
A group had barged into Vidyasagar College at Shankar Ghose Lane and went on a rampage, damaging college property. They also took down a statue of Ishwar Chandra Vidyasagar, a noted philosopher and a key figure of Bengal Renaissance, and set a couple of motorcycles on fire.
Some said that the miscreants were supporters of ABVP, a student outfit affiliated to the Rashtriya Swayamsevak Sangh (RSS). However, Shah rubbished the claims and said that TMC "goons" were behind the desecration of the statue.
BJP and TMC supporters on Tuesday fought pitched battles on the streets of Kolkata during a massive road show by Shah, who escaped unhurt but was forced to cut short the jamboree and had to be escorted to safety by police.
Trouble started around 5.40 pm when Shah's convoy entered College Street. Waving black flags, TMCP members had gathered in the area near Calcutta University. Raising slogans, they asked the BJP chief to go back.
Enraged over the protests, alleged ABVP activists standing across the road forcibly removed the police barricade. They clashed with TMCP supporters and the rampage continued at nearby Vidyasagar College, injuring at least fifteen students.
TMC spokesperson Derek O' Brien later claimed that BJP had brought in "desperate goons" to smash Vidyasagar's bust, while Bengal CM announced a protest rally on Thursday against the vandalisation.
On the other hand, top leaders of the BJP accused Trinamool Congress for the clashes. While Home Minister Rajnath Singh held Banerjee "responsible", Finance Minister Arun Jaitley wondered if Bengal is being run by a "government of gangsters" and Union minister Mahesh Sharma said that Banerjee has turned the state of Rabindranath Tagore and Netaji Subhas Chandra Bose into a zone of violence and hatred.
Ministers Nirmala Sitharaman and Mukhtar Abbas Naqvi had rushed to the EC, seeking its immediate intervention to ensure free and fair polls in the state. On Wednesday, BJP leaders, including Harsh Vardhan, Jitendra Singh and Vijay Goel, staged a silent protest with placards saying: "Save Bengal, Save Democracy".
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