Political slugfest intensifies over Kolkata violence; Shah says escaped safely thanks to CRPF

New Delhi: A political slugfest has erupted over the violence that marred on Tuesday the road-show of BJP chief Amit Shah, who said here on Wednesday that he managed to escape safely only because of the personnel of Central Reserve Police Force (CRPF).

Talking to media persons here, Shah blamed Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee for the violence, which was allegedly “unleashed by Trinamool Congress (TMC) goons.” He also alleged the state police was “a mute spectator to the violence.”

“It would have been almost impossible for me to escape from there if the CRPF personnel won’t have been there. TMC can go to any extent. It is by luck that I managed to get out of there,” Shah said.

However, TMC hit back at the BJP.

“Anybody can come and do a procession, but what were the outsiders for…..Who is this fellow Tejinder Bagga? Who is he? He was arrested. Is he not the same guy who slapped somebody in Delhi? You have taken in your outsider goons,” said Derek O’Brien, national spokesperson of TMC.

O’Brien, who was talking to media persons here, said: “We have two more pictures to show. This is to do with the elections. We have nothing personally against the Central forces. We have two startling pictures to expose what we have been saying that the Central forces are in cahoots with the BJP in Bengal.”

The BJP chief also accused the Election Commission of India (ECI) of being biased in favor of the TMC and Chief Minister Banerjee.

“The Election Commission is just a silent spectator. It should intervene. In West Bengal, the history-sheeters are allowed to roam freely at the time of elections by taking a bond, which is contrary to the practice elsewhere. I appeal to the Election Commission to at least ensure a free and fair election in the last phase in West Bengal,” said Shah.

Shah also alleged that TMC members vandalized the bust of Ishwar Chandra Vidyasagar for political gains.

“We were outside and the gates of the college — Vidyasagar College — were locked. The gate is not broken because TMC goons were inside hurling stones and petrol bombs at us. Moreover, the statue of Vidyasagar was locked inside the college room and still vandalized. The administration is of Banerjee government. The statue was vandalized by the TMC for political gains,” he said.

Charging Banerjee with violence in all six phases of the national elections, Shah said: “Mamata Banerjee blames BJP for violence. I want to tell that she is fighting on only 42 seats while the BJP is contesting in various states across the nation.”

“We are contesting against several regional players and Congress. Nowhere any violence took place except in West Bengal. This proves that Banerjee and TMC are responsible for the violence,” he said.

In Kolkata, BJP Rajya Sabha member Roopa Ganguly accused the TMC of creating disruptions during Shah’s road-show, saying that protest is allowed in a democracy, but “throwing stones is not a protest.”

“Anyone can protest but it doesn’t mean tearing down all the posters. It is not legal. TMC people can stand to give a speech but the question is tearing poster-banner and throwing stones are not a protest,” Ganguly told ANI.

Senior Congress leader Ahmed Patel condemned the smashing the statue of Sir Ishwar Chandra Vidyasagar by terming the act as an insult to the people of West Bengal.

Taking to Twitter, Patel wrote: “We condemn the destruction of Ishwar Chandra Vidyasagar’s statue. This insult to the people of Bengal by BJP will never be forgiven. Greed for power will see the BJP dismantle every icon of Bengal, their legacy and the culture that they helped build.”

Meanwhile, BJP workers held a silent protest at Jantar Mantar against the Kolkata violence. Many top leaders of the party including Union Minister Dr. Harsh Vardhan, Dr. Jitendra Singh and Vijay Goel were seen sitting with a finger on their lips, holding placards that read – ‘Save Bengal, Save Democracy.’ The leaders also wore black bands as a mark of protest.