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Political blame game intensifies following Vidyasagar statue desecration

Both TMC and BJP put forward a series of pictures and video footages to pin the blame on one another

Avishek Rakshit  |  Kolkata 

Police personnel look on near vehicles burnt by a mob during BJP President Amit Shah's election roadshow for the last phase of Lok Sabha polls, in Kolkata, Tuesday | Photo: PTI
Police personnel look on near vehicles burnt by a mob during BJP President Amit Shah's election roadshow for the last phase of Lok Sabha polls, in Kolkata, Tuesday | Photo: PTI

A day after a statue of Iswarchandra Vidyasagar was desecrated during the rally of BJP national president in Kolkata, the political blame game intensified between the BJP and the opposition on Wednesday. While both the TMC and the Congress flatly blamed the BJP, the latter alleged that it was the TMC itself which was behind the destruction of the iconic statue.

To reinforce their claim, which Modi himself testified as an incident which the nation is talking about, both the TMC as well as the BJP put forward a series of pictures and video footages to pin the blame on one another.

Describing the series of violence including alleged kerosene bomb hurling, stone pelting and mob fighting during Shah’s Kolkata rally, which eventually ended with the desecration of the statute of the Indian Renaissance leader, Congress spokesperson Abhishek Manu Singhvi, said, “We forthrightly accuse the BJP of destroying the statue of Vidyasagar.”

“Under Modi-Shah, mobocracy is being actively encouraged and abetted by the ruling party. We have seen irreversible damage to the cultural identities of the state it has been doing,” he added.

It was Vidyasagar, a Sanskrit scholar, who gave shape to the Bengali alphabet and type, and compelled the British to bring in the Widow Remarriage Act, besides fighting for women's education against Hindu orthodoxy.

On the other hand, the TMC also put its best foot forward the blame the BJP.

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In a rally in Agarpara in West Bengal, the state’s chief minister Mamata Banerjee, termed the incident as a “planned criminal conspiracy” and “Bhojpuri hooliganism”.

She supported her claim by showing video footage of the incident, where saffron-colour draped people are seen vandalising. Another leaked Whatsapp video, allegedly shows a Hindi-speaking local leader of BJP asking group members not only to attend Shah’s rally or face consequences but be prepared to take on the TMC and the police during Shah’s rally.

After showing these videos, Banerjee claimed, “This is the proof. I have all the videos which shows who were responsible for the vandalism. He (Shah) thinks he will conspire and I won’t catch him”?

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The party’s spokesperson Derek O’Brien, who also came up with footage of the incident in a press conference, alleged, “We have 44 videos which establishes without doubt who desecrated the statue of Vidyasagar. The BJP is trying to justify this act. They are giving excuses like the gate was locked but is a con-master. We aren’t surprised. Seven days back, he said Rabindranath Tagore was born in Birbhum; two days ago, he called Bengal ‘Kangal Bangla’ (bankrupt Bengal) and yesterday this”!

It is known that the Nobel laureate was born in northern part of Kolkata.

O’Brien has also uploaded several video clips which allegedly shows violence and vandalism carried out by saffron-wearing people.

Earlier in the day, after Shah returned to Delhi following a day of violence and protests in Kolkata, he said, “The BJP is contesting polls in all states. There has been no violence but there has been violence in as TMC is contesting elections there. It was because of the CRPF that I managed to return back”.

“Mamata’s goons are behind the damage to the statue”, he alleged showing a photograph.

Meanwhile, Modi, who came to the state for an election campaign, said, “The whole nation is talking about what happened in Kolkata yesterday. It shows her (Mamata’s) nervousness. She had said she’ll avenge ‘inch-by-inch’ and she did it in a matter of 24 hours. She planned the attack on Shah”.

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On Tuesday, Shah’s convoy, was allegedly attacked by TMC backed goons during a roadshow in the metropolis while alleged BJP backed ‘outsider goons from Bihar-Jharkhand’ attacked college students chanting “go back”.

Following this incident, an FIR against Shah has been lodged in Kolkata.

On Monday, during an election rally, Banerjee had alleged that RSS activists in paramilitary uniforms are sent to Bengal to influence polling that she’ll avenge it once the general election are over.

Several protest marches were led by the TMC and the Left Front in different parts of the state to oppose the alleged vandalism while the BJP staged a dharna against violence. Students, teachers and the staff of Vidyasagar College staged a demonstration and a section of the city’s intelligentsia have condemned the incident.

First Published: Wed, May 15 2019. 18:50 IST