Won't allow BJP to turn Bengal into Gujarat, says Mamata after unveiling Vidyasagar bust

Won't allow BJP to turn Bengal into Gujarat, says Mamata after unveiling Vidyasagar bust
West Bengal Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee garlands the reinstalled bust of the noted Bengali reformer Ishwar Chandra Vidyasagar after it was unveiled by her at Vidyasagar College in Kolkata, on Tuesday. Photo: PTI
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Kolkata: West Bengal Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee Tuesday installed a new bust of 19th century social reformer Iswhar Chandra Vidyasagar at the college where an old one was vandalised during a roadshow of BJP president Amit Shah last month.

She also unveiled an 8.5-ft pristine white fibre-glass statue of Vidyasagar in the courtyard of the college.

Claiming that the BJP is "planning to turn Bengal into Gujarat", she said, "I am ready to go to jail but will not allow it to happen."

After unveiling the bust near Hare school, which was then transferred to Vidyasagar College, Banerjee said altogether 10 people were killed in post-poll violence in the state and eight of them belonged to her party -- the Trinamool Congress (TMC).

The other two are BJP supporters, she said.

"Every death is unfortunate. I will ask the chief secretary to provide assistance from the disaster management fund to the families of the 10 deceased," she said, adding all the deaths will be investigated.

Post-poll violence has been reported from various places of West Bengal after the BJP secured 18 of the 42 Lok Sabha seats in the state, just four less than that of the TMC.

Clashes between the ruling TMC and the BJP took place in several districts, including North 24 Parganas, Coochbehar, Howrah and West Burdwan, resulting in many deaths and injuries. The saffron party leaders are claiming that they would dethrone TMC in the legislative assembly in 2021.

The new bust was unveiled by Banerjee at a programme held near Hare School and then transported in an open jeep to Vidyasagar College, where it was installed at the same place where the vandalised old one was placed.

Eminent poets, writers and senior ministers were also present at the programme.

The shattering of the bust led to bitter recrimination, with both Banerjee and Shah accusing each other's party workers of vandalism.

On Monday, the West Bengal chief minister had accused the Centre and the BJP of engineering violence in the state to topple her government, a charge denied by the saffron party.

A wounded tigress is more dangerous, the feisty TMC supremo had said.

Amid spiralling violence in the state, West Bengal Governor Keshari Nath Tripathi met Prime Minister Narendra Modi and Union Minister Amit Shah in the national capital and apprised them of the situation in the state.

Asked about the possibility of imposition of President's rule in West Bengal, he had said there was no such discussion during his meetings.

The Centre had on Sunday expressed "deep concern" over continuing violence in West Bengal, saying the "unabated violence" even after the Lok Sabha polls appeared to be a failure on part of the state government.

In an advisory to the state government, the Ministry of Home Affairs also asked it to maintain law and order, peace and public tranquillity.

Unhappy with the advisory, Banerjee stepped up attack on the Centre, saying the violence was a "planted game.... The central government and (BJP) party cadre are trying to incite violence in West Bengal."

The Trinamool Congress also wrote a letter to Shah objecting to the advisory and termed it a "deep-rooted conspiracy" and an "evil ploy to grab power" in opposition- ruled states.

The BJP has, however, said it would not demand President's Rule in West Bengal even though "a lawless situation prevails" in the state as Banerjee would then seek sympathy votes, and vowed to "defy" her ban on its political programmes, including victory processions.

In one of the worst post-poll clashes in the state on Saturday, three persons were killed and some others are claimed to be missing at Sandeshkhali in North 24 Parganas district.

The BJP observed a black day in the state and held a bandh in Basirhat sub-division of the district on Monday in protest against the death of two of its supporters. A TMC worker was also killed in the incident.

Senior BJP leader Mukul Roy Tuesday blamed Mamata Banerjee for the violence in Sandeshkhali, saying her speeches "fuelled" the attacks on supporters of the saffron party.

Roy, who was once the number two in the Trinamool Congress, switched over to the saffron camp in 2017, and is considered as a key strategist behind the stupendous performance of the BJP in the state.

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