Leaders of Mamata Banerjee’s Trinamool Congress accused by BJP’s Amit Shah of orchestrating violence during his Kolkata roadshow on Wednesday struck back at the BJP boss with what they said, was video evidence to establish the BJP’s complicity in the violence and vandalism of the bust of renowned Bengal reformer, Ishwar Chandra Vidyasagar.
“Mr. Amit Shah is a liar…. The video is the proof,” said Trinamool leader Derek O’Brien at a media briefing before heading to the Election Commission with a litany of complaints against the BJP.
This video shows some people jumping over the fence to enter the college, the lawmaker said, his rebuttal to Amit Shah who had hours earlier contended that Trinamool activists had broken the statute to be able to pin the blame on his party and gain the sympathy of people.
A statue of renowned Bengal reformer, Ishwar Chandra Vidyasagar, was destroyed and a college named after him ransacked in last evening violence, which the BJP and rival Trinamool Congress leaders have blamed on each other.
Derek O’Brien said the men who broke the statute were BJP goons who had been brought to the city from as far away as Uttar Pradesh for the roadshow.
“The streets of Kolkata tinged with shock and anger. What happened yesterday hurt Bengali pride,” he said on the vandalism, adding the TMC will take the videos it has to the poll panel and is authenticating them on record.
“We are trying to obtain and authenticate audio of slogans like ‘Vidyasagar finished, where is the Josh’ raised during the violence,” O’Brien said.
In another video that he said was being circulated via WhatsApp, people were being asked to come to Amit Shah’s roadshow with rods and arms to fight the Trinamool and police.
He brushed aside the claims and photo proof that Amit Shah had put out at his briefing a few hours earlier, calling the BJP president a conman. He also disputed Amit Shah’s charge that BJP’s posters were removed by Trinamool activists along the route of the roadshow.
Some of these posters were removed on the instructions of election officer since Amit Shah’s party only had permission for a roadshow, not posters and banners. His colleague Manish Gupta accused the BJP of putting out “communally sensitive graffiti” that continue to remain.
He also alleged that central forces in West Bengal have started a whisper campaign asking people to vote for the BJP.
The violence around the roadshow ratcheted up tensions in the battleground state, where nine seats go to polls in the last phase of the general elections on Sunday. Bengal has been roiled by violence over the past six rounds of polling, with bombs, bullets, and allegations of booth capturing flying thick and fast.
The eastern state sends 42 lawmakers to Lok Sabha – the third highest after Uttar Pradesh and Maharashtra – which the BJP is eyeing to offset possible losses in northern India, and which are crucial for Banerjee’s national political ambitions.