Shah with the victims of alleged excesses by Trinamul in Calcutta on Tuesday. Picture by Sanjoy Chattopadhayaya
Calcutta, Sept. 12: BJP national president Amit Shah today requested "champions of human rights" to visit people afflicted by violence in Bengal.
Shah said he felt the need for such a statement after being "overwhelmingly moved" by tales of torture BJP supporters had suffered in the hands of Trinamul cadres across the state.
The BJP leader today hosted a lunch for 93 people, the alleged victims of Trinamul violence, at the Indian Council for Cultural Relations building here.
"I would like to appeal to the champions of human rights to find some time and report the political violence in Calcutta or Basirhat or Birbhum nationally," said Shah.
The biochemist - who turned an alchemist for the BJP after scripting successive electoral victories - this afternoon showed his rarely seen side while talking to the media. Many said Shah was not known for showing emotions in public.
"I hope my voice will reach them, making them come out of Delhi's lanes and alleys, visit the violence-torn pockets of Bengal and present the real picture to the world," he pleaded.
Several state BJP functionaries said Shah had suddenly decided to issue the statement after he had heard the plight of the 93 people. "The political violence here is unparalleled in the world. Limbs are being broken, houses and shops are being set ablaze, a six-year-old girl is being shot in the stomach.... Are these not human rights violations?" Shah asked.
He asked if the people of Bengal, which he described as the land of Swami Vivekananda and Rabindranath Tagore, had no right to pursue politics that differed from that of Trinamul. Shah said he had been repeatedly getting reports of violence but after he had met the families of the alleged victims, he felt the urge to make a statement.
What looked like a spontaneous reaction, a source said, could be a part of Shah's strategy to turn this into a talking point in the rank and file of the BJP, thereby spurring the state unit on. The BJP's central leaders consider Bengal as a sunrise state and Shah had set the agenda - Ebar Bangla (This time, its Bengal).
"That's why during his 110 days of tour of the country, Shah visited only Bengal, Telangana and Odisha twice," said a source.
The BJP president is scheduled to come to Bengal again in January.
Shah today accused the Trinamul regime of perpetuating the terror that used to be unleashed under the Left rule and reminded the ruling party that it was brought to power by the people because of the follies of the communists.
Shah said Bengal couldn't see development while political violence of such a scale existed, before rolling out a list of heads under which funds had purportedly flowed into the state from the Centre. He went on to allege that the money was being usurped by Trinamul-backed syndicates.
"Nobody can stop the BJP's onward march in Bengal with violence and intimidation. The more you try to push us back, the harder we will push forward," he said.