A group of BJP supporters in South 24-Parganas lashed out at a “fact-finding" team sent by the central leadership, asking why there had been no help from the party's office-bearers when they were being assaulted by alleged Trinamul Congress activists.
The team led by former Union minister Ravi Shankar Prasad has been touring Bengal to probe the incidents of violence during the panchayat elections.
The local BJP leadership at Basanti in South 24-Parganas had set up a meeting — essentially a photo-op — between alleged victims of the poll-related violence and the members of the Prasad-led team. At the meeting, many people called out the leadership.
“You are here to showcase the violence we were subjected to. But where were you when the attacks were happening?” a middle-aged man claiming to be a BJP supporter asked Prasad as several others followed suit in the presence of a vast media contingent.
Another person alleged that phone calls made to state BJP leaders during the polls had gone unanswered. Many in the crowd started aggressively gesticulating, telling the team to leave.
Neither Prasad nor any other leader was willing to speak on the matter. But BJP sources said the incident was a “major embarrassment” for the national leadership and the team. Unable to pacify the infuriated crowd, the team left soon after.
“Their anger is justified. This has happened to our cadres every single time. Ahead of and on the day of the polling, they were attacked and none of our leaders stood by them. Later, these central teams are sent to take photos and videos with them for nationwide propaganda against Trinamul, using their sufferings,” a state BJP source said.
Before the meeting, Prasad and the others — Satyapal Singh, Rajdeep Roy and Rekha Verma — met a BJP candidate who had allegedly been beaten up by Trinamul supporters. They promised her legal support.
Earlier in the day, the team members had met governor C.V. Ananda Bose and apprised him of the situation — according to them — in the state.
“This is unacceptable. Houses have been vandalised. Despite victory, many of our candidates and their family members had to flee their homes but no police action has been taken. We demand an answer from Mamataji. We will submit a detailed report to BJP national president J.P. Nadda,” said Prasad.
The team members later in the day left for north Bengal.