TMC accused of assault on BJP statue 'purifiers'
Calcutta: Suspected Trinamul workers have been accused of provoking a clash with BJP workers on their way to a "cleansing ritual" of Syama Prasad Mookerjee's bust in Calcutta on Thursday, giving the saffron camp a chance to play the victim card and gain advantage from Wednesday's defacement of the statue.
State BJP leaders accused the Mamata Banerjee government and her party of unleashing terror on their "peaceful" supporters.
The street-fights erupted near Rashbehari Avenue in Calcutta, not far from Mookerjee's statue in Keoratala, after BJP workers, several of them women, were beaten up while trying to breach police barricades and reach the bust.
Some Trinamul leaders said the attack - launched not long after Mamata delivered an address to observe International Women's Day at Mayo Road, barely 6km from Rashbehari - was "avoidable and unnecessary".
"The BJP has got a chance to create an issue out of nothing... A handful of ultra-Left hooligans had defaced the bust and we had nothing to do with it. After the attack on BJP supporters, we seemed to be defending the act," said the Trinamul leader.
Seven persons of Radical, the ultra-Left outfit formed by Jadavpur University students, have been arrested for allegedly defacing the Jana Sangh leader's bust.
Police sources said 59 persons, including two women, were arrested for breaking cordons to rush to the bust on Thursday, adding all were BJP supporters. "Police blocked the way and stood watching while Trinamul hooligans thrashed them (BJP supporters). We condemn this barbarism," state BJP chief Dilip Ghosh said.
Sources in the Calcutta Municipal Corporation, entrusted with the restoration within hours of Wednesday's incident, said efforts were on to replace the damaged bust with a new one.
Speaking at the Women's Day event earlier, Mamata promised stern action against the statue vandals. "There will be stern action. I haven't heard of any action in Tripura or Tamil Nadu.... Syama Prasad Mookerjee was a son of Bengal. We do not believe in his ideology but we do not disrespect him. The vandals have shamed Bengal."
Statues of Lenin have been brought down in Tripura after the BJP's victory and those of Periyar attacked in Tamil Nadu.
"Somebody can follow Lenin, somebody can follow Marx, somebody can follow Ho Chi Minh, somebody can follow Kazi Nazrul, somebody can follow Syama Prasad.... Nobody has the right to disrespect anybody," Mamata said.
For the fifth time in eight days, Mamata publicly stood by the CPM over its Tripura rout and renewed her call to regional forces to unite to oust the BJP.
Mamata warned the saffron brigade not to be misled by its victory in Tripura as the state had only 25-odd lakh voters. " Du hajar unish, BJP finished (2019, the BJP will be finished)," she said.