The TMC has sought a meeting with the Election Commission (EC) over the destruction of a statue of Bengali writer and philosopher Ishwar Chandra Vidyasagar during clashes in West Bengal's Kolkata between workers of the Trinamool Congress (TMC) and the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP). The team comprising of Derek O'Brien, Sukhendu Sekhar Ray, Manish Gupta, Nadimul Haque has sought the meeting, hours after tensions heightened in the city.
The supporters of both the parties fought pitched battles on the streets of Kolkata during a massive road show by BJP president Amit Shah. Though Shah escaped unhurt, he was forced to cut short the road show and had to be escorted to safety by the police.
Parts of the city plunged into a welter of violence after TMC's student wing, allegedly, waved black flags near Vidyasagar college and were also displaying anti-BJP placards. When confronted by BJP supporters, violence erupted. Stones were thrown, lathis were used and several vehicles were set on fire, even as Kolkata Police eventually resorted to lathi charge to restore order.
In another development, the students and professors of the Vidyasagar College reached the Amherst Police Station at around midnight to register a complaint against the BJP over the destruction of the statue.
Following the clashes, state Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee announced that the party will hold a protest rally on Wednesday.
The pressure in the state's political arena starting building up ahead of Amit Shah scheduled rally. There were reports that TMC supporters had begun tearing posters and hoardings in the city which showed PM Narendra Modi and Shah. BJP national secretary Kailash Vijayvargiya accused TMC of resorting to dubious means in order to disrupt proceedings. "Mamata ji's goons and police removed all the posters and flags. They escaped soon after we reached here," he had said. Shortly after, Kolkata Police denied permission for Shah's roadshow to begin from Shahid Minar Maidaan, stating that BJP had tried to set up a stage here. As a result, the roadshow eventually began from Dharmatala.
Thousands of people came out to greet Shah as the roadshow proceeded from here, through Esplanade, Lenin Sarani, Wellington Square and Boubazar. Flower petals rained on participants of the roadshow as Shah waved, punched the air and showed the victory symbol. Following him were tableaus from 20 states and cultural events too were organised at different points of the route.
But soon black clouds of violence ensued.
Speaking to Zee News, Shah blasted Mamata. "The attack was carried out by TMC workers, they carried out arson. Mamata is frustrated as she is fearing defeat. This is a step taken because of their frustration," he said.
Mamata, however, refuted the charge and countered by saying BJP had brought in party workers from other states in a bid to show they enjoyed mass support in West Bengal. She also visited the Vidyasagar College where a statue of Ishwar Chandra Vidyasagar had been damaged.