West Bengal Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee interacts with the media after inspecting the vandalised statue of Bengali writer and philosopher Ishwar Chandra Vidyasagar (Source: PTI)

Election 2019: Political Slugfest In West Bengal Over Vandalism And Violence Between BJP, TMC Workers

Bharatiya Janata Party chief Amit Shah on Wednesday blamed the Trinamool Congress for violence during his roadshow in Kolkata and accused the Election Commission of “double standards” for remaining a “mute spectator” to rigging and violation of the poll code in West Bengal.

Shah rejected TMC’s allegation that BJP workers vandalised a bust of educationist and social reformer Ishwar Chandra Vidyasagar, claiming the regional party itself was behind it.

The countdown of Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee’s days in power will begin on May 23, when general election results will be declared, Shah warned. At a press conference a day after the violence, he said it would have been difficult for him to survive the attack on his convoy but for the security of CRPF, a central police force.

“I want to tell the Election Commission that it has become a mute spectator to attempts to rig polls in West Bengal. It should immediately intervene. History-sheeters...are arrested during elections across the country. In Bengal, they are released after furnishing a bond. What is this double standards from the EC? Why is it silent,” he questioned.

BJP and TMC supporters clashed on the streets of Kolkata on Tuesday, during a massive roadshow of Shah who had to cut short the event mid-way due to the violence.

BJP activists try to reinstall the party hordings, poster and banners, which were vandalised (Source: PTI)
BJP activists try to reinstall the party hordings, poster and banners, which were vandalised (Source: PTI)

The violence apparently began after suspected TMC supporters hurled stones at the BJP convoy from inside the hostel of Vidyasagar College. Furious BJP workers retaliated and during the clash , a bust of the polymath and philosopher inside the campus was damaged.

The election in West Bengals has been marred by incidents of violence and targeted attacks on rival party candidates.

In a separate press conference, Trinamool Congress released a video to claim that “BJP goons” damaged the statue of Vidyasagar and accused the saffron party of violence.

Shah in turn accused TMC “goons” of vandalising the bust, saying it was done to gain “sympathy” as the Mamata Banerjee-led party has realised its “reverse count” has begun. He too showed pictures of Tuesday’s violence to blame the TMC.

Trinamool Parliamentary team comprising Derek O'Brien, Sukhendu Sekhar Ray, Manish Gupta, Nadimul Haque also met the Election Commission over the issue and submitted “proof” in support of their claim.

Earlier, at a press conference here, TMC leader Derek O'Brien said, “The video not only clearly establishes what the BJP did, but proves that its chief Amit Shah is a liar and ‘dhokebaaz’ (betrayer).”

“The streets of Kolkata are tinged with shock and anger. What happened yesterday hurt Bengali pride,” O'Brien said, adding the TMC will submit the videos, it has, to the poll panel and is authenticating them on record.

 West Bengal Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee inspects the vandalised statue of Bengali writer and philosopher Ishwar Chandra Vidyasagar (Source: PTI)
West Bengal Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee inspects the vandalised statue of Bengali writer and philosopher Ishwar Chandra Vidyasagar (Source: PTI)

One of the videos shows a group of men purportedly trying to break down the gate of the Vidyasagar college and enter the campus by jumping over its walls. “It is a childish argument to ask who had the keys to the gate? The video establishes beyond doubt who desecrated the statue,” O'Brien said, claiming his party has as many as 44 videos to support its claims.

The party also showed a video and WhatsApp message allegedly by a BJP supporter asking people to come to Shah's roadshow with rods and arms to fight the TMC and police.

“We are trying to obtain and authenticate audio of slogans like ‘Vidyasagar finished, where is the Josh’ raised during the violence,” O'Brien said and alleged that the Central forces deployed in West Bengal have started a “whisper campaign” asking people to vote for the BJP.

“The Central forces are in cahoots with the BJP. We have written to the EC thrice and this will be our fourth letter,” the TMC leader said.

BJP and TMC supporters 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 the police.