West Bengal’s chief secretary on Friday informed the union home ministry that he and other state officials will not visit Delhi in compliance with the summons issued to them as the state government took a defiant stand in the wake of an attack on the convoy of BJP president JP Nadda in Kolkata on Thursday.
In a letter, top bureaucrat Alapan Bandyopadhyay informed the home ministry that the state government is already addressing the issue with “utmost seriousness”. Three cases have been filed for the attack and seven persons have been arrested, he wrote, as he told the Centre he has been directed to request the Centre "to dispense with the presence of the state officials" in the meeting called by the union home secretary on December 14.
The chief secretary also addressed reports that adequate security arrangements were not made for Nadda, a Z category protectee, and said he was given a bullet-proof car, an escort vehicle, and security officers. A DIG was also stationed to oversee the security, “along with four SPs, eight Deputy SPs, 14 inspectors, 70 sub-inspectors, 40 RAF personnel, 259 constables and 350 other forces” along the route taken by Nadda.
He said this was in addition to the arrangements made by the Centre, but pointed out that the tagging of several vehicles to Nadda’s convoy made the “situation unwieldy”.
Nadda's convoy was attacked allegedly by Trinamool Congress supporters in West Bengal's South 24-Parganas district when the BJP chief was heading out to attend a rally on Thursday. The irate mob had also attacked other vehicles of senior BJP leaders like national general secretary Kailash Vijayvargiya, national vice-president Mukul Roy and Anupam Hazra in the convoy.
Chief minister Mamata Banerjee has termed the whole incident as a 'drama' and claimed that it was staged by the saffron brigade to attract political attention before the state assembly elections.
The TMC also hit out at the union home ministry for the summons and accused the saffron party of trying to create a situation where the Centre can interfere in matters related to states. Senior TMC MPs Saugata Roy and Kalyan Banerjee alleged that Nadda's convoy had "convicted criminals and goons" who carried weapons with the malafide intention of instigating violence.
"What the central government is doing by sending a letter (seeking report) from the state government is unconstitutional. The MHA summoning the chief secretary and DGP is unacceptable. "The BJP and the central government are trying to create a situation where they can interfere with the federal structure," Banerjee told a press conference.
Provocative speeches by BJP state president Dilip Ghosh are leading to a "vicious" situation, he said, and claimed that Nadda was accompanied by "convicted criminals and armed men belonging to the BJP".