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regular-article-logo Wednesday, 22 May 2024

Mamata Banerjee head injury: 'Push from behind' narrative scaled down

Senior police officers said they had till late Friday evening not received any complaint saying the chief minister’s fall at home on Thursday evening was caused by a push

Kinsuk Basu, Meghdeep Bhattacharyya Published 16.03.24, 05:36 AM
Mamata on her way home from SSKM on Thursday.

Mamata on her way home from SSKM on Thursday. Picture by Pradip Sanyal

As chief minister Mamata Banerjee recovered from Thursday night’s forehead gash sustained at home, the “push from behind” narrative was given a swift burial and the police registered no complaint.

A physician spoke of the possibility of a person having “a sensation of a push”, a theory Trinamul immediately latched on to.

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Senior police officers said they had till late Friday evening not received any complaint saying the chief minister’s fall at home on Thursday evening was caused by a push.

“The police can’t draw up an FIR under IPC Section 325 (voluntarily causing grievous hurt) unless the victim or a witness lodges a formal complaint,” an officer said.

A relative had alleged a “push from behind” before reporters on Thursday night — after Mamata suffered cuts on her forehead and nose from a fall and was taken to SSKM Hospital where she was given stitches.

Shortly before the relative’s allegation, the SSKM director, Dr Manimoy Bandyopadhyay, had issued a statement that too spoke of a “push from behind” and set the cat among the pigeons. On Friday, Bandopadhyay said he had been “misinterpreted”.

“Chief minister Mamata Banerjee reported to our hospital at around 7.30pm, with a history of fall, within the vicinity of her home, due to some push from behind,”
Bandopadhyay had said on Thursday.

TMC workers pray for speedy recovery of party's chief and West Bengal Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee.

TMC workers pray for speedy recovery of party's chief and West Bengal Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee. PTI picture.

The “push from behind” part of the statement went viral on social media within minutes, generated debate in the mainstream media, and spawned conspiracy theories in poll season.

Bandyopadhyay clarified on Friday he had only meant Mamata may have experienced “a sensation of a push”.

“This was a sensation of a push from behind, which led to the fall…. Our job is to treat, and we have done that. There was a misinterpretation of what I said last evening,” the SSKM director told journalists.

“The chief minister had probably tried to say that at the time of the fall, she had felt the sensation of a push from behind. That does not imply somebody had pushed her.”

Trinamul fielded industry minister Shashi Panja — herself a physician — to buttress the “sensation of a push” theory. Panja endorsed Bandopadhyay’s clarification.

“There is this strange element that has become a talking point — that somebody had pushed her. Nothing like this happened. It’s very clear,” Panja said.

“I too am a doctor. We understand that there was no pushing involved. Sometimes there is a sensation, amid discomfort in the body… it’s possible for a person to stumble during that… some sensation perhaps,” she added.

“For that, suddenly there could be a case of tripping as well… that caused her to fall. Thereafter, she got seriously injured. But that strange theory, or what it implies, made this rather weird…. None of that is true.”

Officially, the CPM, Congress and the BJP had stayed largely mum on Mamata’s injury except for sending brief get-well messages, perhaps remembering how counterproductive their mockery of her leg injury ahead of the 2021 Assembly polls had turned out to be.

However, some comments seemed to express scepticism. One of them came from Midnapore MP and former state BJP chief Dilip Ghosh.

“There are many elements to this. A lot of people are demanding answers…. She is the Number One person in this state. How did she get injured like that in her own room? It should be properly investigated,” Ghosh said early on Friday morning.

Later, the BJP’s Nandigram MLA, Suvendu Adhikari, was accused of mocking Mamata over the fall at a rally in Khejuri.

A video clip circulated by Trinamul purportedly showed a man resembling Adhikari saying: “Trinamul is going through a difficult time. Their heads are spinning and they have been falling.”

Trinamul women’s wing chief and finance minister Chandrima Bhattacharya accused Adhikari of misogyny.

“Attacking the only female CM is not just despicable – it’s a display of contemptible misogyny,” the party said in a statement on X, quoting Bhattacharya.

“@SuvenduWB’s shameful assault on Smt. @MamataOfficial, while she’s receiving treatment. His words reek of desperation and an utter lack of basic human decency. He must issue a sincere APOLOGY NOW.”

Mamata is believed to have hit her forehead against an object with sharp edges — probably a showcase — as she fell. Apart from the cuts on the forehead and nose, she seems to have suffered no great damage, doctors have said.

Police commissioner Vineet Kumar Goyal visited Mamata’s home on Friday morning accompanied by other senior officers, but no meeting took place with her.

Sources said the security ring around the Kalighat house had been tightened, with arriving vehicles having to navigate additional layers of security checks.

They added that Mamata was in her bedroom for most of the day, getting her injuries tended to. She responded via posts on X to the get-well messages sent by senior politicians from across the country, including Prime Minister Narendra Modi and Congress leader Rahul Gandhi.

“The chief minister is clinically stable,” said a senior doctor at SSKM Hospital.

Arrangements had been made at SSKM’s Woodburn Ward on Friday afternoon for a visit by Mamata for a check-up. She, however, didn’t turn up. Instead, a medical team went to her home.

Doctors have advised the chief minister to rest for a few days. Her vital signs will be regularly monitored.

She is expected to step out and resume campaigning after a medical team gives the nod, health department sources said.

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