Kolkata: Ahead of the last phase of Lok Sabha elections on May 19, it's a no-holds-barred battle between the BJP and Trinamool Congress in West Bengal. It seems the CPM, which ruled the state over three decades, and the Congress are nowhere in the picture as the saffron brigade and Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee's TMC even resort to violence to show their clout in the highly unpredictable war in the state.
The violence during BJP president Amit Shah's roadshow on Tuesday in Kolkata was a clear indication that both the parties are not ready to yield an inch in the battle of ballots. And, if needed they were ready to take up arms also to win the war. Nine constituencies of Bengal's 42 seats will go to polls on May 19.
Total chaos erupted at Amit Shah’s roadshow after BJP and TMC's students' wing activists of Calcutta University pelted stones at each other during the rally. The students also showed black flags to Shah to protest against the BJP government's five-year 'misrule'.
Tension prevailed in parts of north Kolkata as BJP and TMC supporters clashed in several places.
The first incident of violence occurred when students of Calcutta University shouted slogans against Prime Minister Narendra Modi and vandalized his poster placed in front of the varsity gate on College Street.
Angry over this, BJP supporters tried to break the police barricade and pelted stones and bottles at the agitating students. Soon, the police cane-charged to disperse the crowd.
The second incident took place in front of Vidyasagar College hostel in Bidhan Sarani when TMC supporters allegedly pelted stones at Shah’s convoy from Vidyasagar College hostel, triggering a clash between supporters of the two parties again.
Several motorcycles parked outside were set ablaze in the violence. The college windows were also damaged in the stone-pelting and a bust of Ishwar Chandra Vidyasagar, a key figure of Bengal Renaissance, was also smashed.
According to the students, the bust was smashed by the BJP supporters.
“We didn’t start the violence. We had just shown posters against BJP as they didn’t do anything in the past five years. We all have our democratic rights. The BJP supporters suddenly entered our hostel premises and started the violence. Many of our friends were taken to hospital as they were injured in the attack,” said Swarnali Gupta, a student of Vidyasagar College.
According to local sources, a few BJP supporters came back to ‘create unnecessary tension in front of the hostel’ after the roadshow crossed the area.
According to varsity sources, the students who were agitating during the roadshow were affiliated to Trinamool Congress Chatra Parishad (TMCP).
Before tension started in north Kolkata, Amit Shah was seen waving and greeting the huge gathering amid chants of ‘Jai Shri Ram' and the frenzied chorus of 'NaMo again’.
Shah, who was supposed to end his roadshow at the ancestral house of Swami Vivekananda, couldn’t reach the venue as the cops, citing security reasons, changed the route.
“The police deviated from the planned route and took a road where there were traffic jams. I was not allowed to reach Swami Vivekananda’s house to pay tributes and I am saddened by it,” claimed the BJP president later.
Hitting out at the ruling TMC, Shah said, “There was an attempt by Trinamool hooligans to attack me. TMC supremo Mamata Banerjee tried to provoke violence. But I am safe. Their growing fear of losing elections is leading to more violence in the state. No matter how much the TMC tries to stop us, the lotus is sure to bloom in Bengal,” Shah said.
BJP national secretary Rahul Sinha claimed that the attack was pre-planned by Mamata as the students were not supposed to be in the college when it was already closed.
“College timings were over and the students as instructed by Mamata Banerjee stayed back just to create tension. We demand a fair probe and CCTVs installed outside the varsity gates should be checked as none of the BJP supporters pelted stones at the students,” said Sinha.
Mamata reached the spot after the violence and claimed that the BJP should never be voted as they don’t give respect to the legends of Bengal.
“The BJP is full of ‘goondas’ (goons). They should never be given votes as they are looting the country. They wanted to be in power in Bengal but they don’t pay respect to the legends of Bengal and also they don’t know Bengali culture,” said Banerjee.
Sporadic incidents of violence were also reported in the morning when police along with a few local people citing EC’s order removed the flex and posters of Prime Minister Narendra Modi and Shah.