TMC,BJP­clash asShahlead­s bigshowof­strength­inBen­gal

Vidyasagar bust van­dalised; BJP chief says po­lice didn’t let him visit Vivekanand­a’s house

Hindustan Times (Patiala) - - Nation election20­19 -

Kolkata’s ed­u­ca­tion hub of Col­lege Street re­sem­bled a bat­tle­ground on Tues­day evening as clashes broke out be­tween work­ers of the state’s rul­ing Tri­namool Congress (TMC) and Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) af­ter a road show by saf­fron party chief Amit Shah.

A sec­tion of the crowd broke through the gates of the 147-yearold Vidyasagar Col­lege and broke chairs and glass panes and set fire to bi­cy­cles and mo­tor­bikes. A bust of iconic 19th cen­tury re­former, Ish­war Chan­dra Vidyasagar, was also van­dalised.

“About 100 per­sons have been de­tained. Investigat­ion is on to find out who are re­spon­si­ble. Those guilty would not be spared,” said Kolkata po­lice com­mis­sioner Ra­jesh Ku­mar, with­out spec­i­fy­ing the num­ber of those in­jured.

BJP leader Locket Chat­ter­jee al­leged that TMC sup­port­ers broke the bust, while Shah, af­ter fin­ish­ing his four-km-long road­show, at­tacked chief min­is­ter Ma­mata Banerjee. “Didi, your vi­o­lence and hooli­gan­ism can no more stop the peo­ple of Ben­gal from re­claim­ing the true legacy of this great land,” he said.

“TMC sup­port­ers came out with black flags and mounted at­tacks on our work­ers at two places. I was sched­uled to visit Swami Vivekanand­a’s an­ces­tral home af­ter the road show but the po­lice guided my car to a dif­fer­ent road,” he added. BJP work­ers claimed stones first came fly­ing at them from in­side the col­lege, and a del­e­ga­tion of party lead­ers urged the EC to bar Banerjee from cam­paign­ing.

But TMC sup­port­ers al­leged the at­tack on the col­lege came from the par­tic­i­pants in the road show. “BJP sup­port­ers who came down from Rajasthan, Ut­tar Pradesh, Bi­har, Gu­jarat and Jhark­hand stormed the cam­pus of Vidyasagar Col­lege and van­dalised a bust of Vidyasagar. None will be more dan­ger­ous than me if Ben­gal’s her­itage comes un­der at­tack,” thun­dered Banerjee at a rally. She, along with ed­u­ca­tion min­is­ter Partha Chat­ter­jee, rushed to the col­lege late evening. “What does Amit Shah think of him­self? Is he above ev­ery­thing? Is he God that no one can protest against him?” Banerjee told re­porters at the col­lege.

The in­ci­dent is ex­pected to ratchet up ten­sions in the bat­tle­ground state, where nine seats go to polls in the last phase of the gen­eral elec­tions on Sun­day. Ben­gal has been roiled by vi­o­lence over the past six rounds of polling, with bombs, bul­lets and al­le­ga­tions of booth cap­tur­ing fly­ing thick and fast.

What makes the eastern state im­por­tant are the 42 seats on of­fer ( the third high­est af­ter Ut­tar Pradesh and Ma­ha­rash­tra) that the BJP is eye­ing to off­set pos­si­ble losses in north­ern In­dia, and which are cru­cial for Banerjee’s na­tional po­lit­i­cal am­bi­tions.

Ten­sions be­gan on Tues­day in front of Cal­cutta Univer­sity with Tri­namool Congress Chat­tra Par­ishad (TMCP) work­ers wav­ing black flags and shout­ing “go back Amit Shah” slo­gans be­fore his road­show passed through. the TMCP work­ers gath­ered in front of Cal­cutta Univer­sity, BJP sup­port­ers gath­ered on the other side of nar­row street.

Shah be­gan his road show from Es­planade in the heart of the city and ended it n north Kolkata. Union min­is­ter Sm­riti Irani and se­nior BJP leader Su­nil Deod­har ad­dressed pub­lic meet­ings at Ja­davpur and Kolkata South con­stituen­cies, re­spec­tively. Flower petals rained from the rooftops on both sides of the streets while thou­sands took part in the pro­ces­sion, chant­ing ‘Jai Shri Ram’ and wav­ing saf­fron flags.

Shah stood atop a truck, ac­com­pa­nied by Kolkata North can­di­date Rahul Sinha, state party pres­i­dent Dilip Ghosh, South Kolkata can­di­date Chan­dra Ku­mar Bose, Union Min­is­ter Babul Supriyo and As­sam fi­nance min­is­ter Hi­manta Viswa Sarma. Over 100 pickup trucks, dec­o­rated with green and saf­fron bal­loons, party ban­ners and cutouts of Modi-Shah and car­ry­ing en­thu­si­as­tic ac­tivists, fol­lowed the rally.


BJP chief Amit Shah said Tues­day that a Bengali will be­come the chief min­is­ter of the state if the party comes to power. “Don’t try to scare us re­fer­ring as ‘ba­hari ba­hari’ (out­sider). Nei­ther I nor (party in­charge of Ben­gal) Kailash Vi­jay­vargiya is go­ing to con­test elec­tions here. If BJP comes to power, a Bengali gentle­man, or lady, is go­ing to be the CM,” Shah told a group of in­tel­lec­tu­als here.

Shah urged the au­di­ence not to get con­fused by chief min­is­ter Ma­mata Banerjee’s cam­paign and said, “No one will come from out­side. A Bengali will be the chief min­is­ter and all our MPs will be those car­ry­ing the fra­grance of the soil of Ben­gal.”

His re­marks were a re­sponse to the TMC’s al­le­ga­tions that BJP was try­ing to im­port north-In­dian cul­ture into Ben­gal.


BJP chief Amit Shah leads a road show; (right) dam­age caused by clashes be­tween TMC, BJP work­ers in Kolkata on Tues­day.

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