On the last day of the election campaign for the Bhabanipur assembly seat bypoll on Monday, tension escalated in the south Kolkata area ahead of the September 30 elections, as Trinamool Congress supporters allegedly physically harassed former BJP state chief Dilip Ghosh while he was campaigning for Priyanka Tibrewal who is pitted against Mamata Banerjee.
The incident happened near JaduBabur Bazar (Jadu Babu’s Market) in Bhabanipur area where Ghosh’s way was blocked by some Trinamool supporters and he was pushed to the side of the road. The supporters started giving slogan “Joy Bangla” – a slogan coined by Mamata Banerjee to counter BJP’s “Jai Shri Ram” – and shouted at him to go back.
There was a scuffle between personal security guards of Ghosh and the Trinamool Congress supporters and the guards were seen pointing their guns to disperse the crowd. Ghosh was cordoned off and taken away from the place. One BJP supporter was wounded in the scuffle.
No Level-playing Field: BJP
BJP leader Suvendu Adhikari claimed on Monday that the situation in Bhabanipur was critical after the incident. The Nandigram member further said that the Election Commission took no action after receiving objections from the BJP. “The situation is dire, and the Election Commission is doing nothing. Our party sent a team to meet them in both Delhi and Kolkata. Our delegation met with them multiple times, but no action was taken,” Adhikari was reported by news agency ANI as saying.
However, PTI reported sources in the office of the state’s chief electoral officer as saying that the Election Commission had sought a report from the state government by 4 pm. It was not yet known if the state had sent its report to the poll panel or contents thereof.
The BJP contends that the TMC does not provide its competitors with a “fair playing field.” “The TMC does not provide its competitors with a level playing field. Because TMC goons are engaging in state-sponsored violence, our politicians are not even allowed to campaign,” BJP Rajya Sabha MP Anil Baluni remarked. He also stated that if a senior leader is subjected to such “assaults,” the “fate of the average guy in West Bengal can be envisioned,” according to the news agency PTI.
TMC Claims BJP Trying to Spread Unrest
The TMC, on the other hand, has dismissed the allegations and accused BJP of “trying to spread unrest in the area”. The TMC further claimed that one of its workers was threatened by Ghosh’s security him with a gun.
Prior to this incident, there were protests in Bhabanipur over BJP MP Arjun Singh’s campaign, when TMC workers allegedly surrounded him and chanted ‘Go Back’.
The TMC tweeted, “[email protected] HITS A NEW LOW! How DARE a gun be aimed at public in broad daylight? Do people not have the right to protest against leaders they do not support? Such blatant violation of human rights is shameful! This compromises the safety and security of people in Bhabanipur!”
‘Bhabanipur Bypoll Should be Cancelled’: Dilip Ghosh
Speaking to the media, Ghosh — the national vice-president of the party said, “Look this is the situation of West Bengal. They will not allow anyone to campaign even. I was pushed and beaten because I came here to campaign in favour of our candidate. There is no democracy in the state. We shall give a formal complaint”.
Ghosh told CNN-News18: “I was attacked today. I don’t think this election can be conducted peacefully. We never realised that the fight will get so tough for the TMC that they would end up resorting to such tactics. This is dangerous for democracy. This election is being done only so that a CM who lost an election can win it.”
Referring to the alleged manhandling by the TMC workers, he said his security detail was attacked and when he was attacked, his security pulled out their weapons. “This is the state of law and order in West Bengal. The situation is not conducive to elections. Till such a time when things return to a state of normalcy, the election should be cancelled.”
The BJP leader claimed that Mamata Banerjee is afraid to lose the Bhabanipur bypoll after losing the Nandigram seat in the West Bengal assembly elections this year. “Mamata is afraid that she will lose again. This fear is leading them to use such tactics. This is why I was attacked. This election is being conducted only so that Mamata can fight elections and use a back door entry to win. Why are people who are protecting us being charged? What about the TMC goons? Will they not be punished? This election should be cancelled. Hold the elections when the law and order situation is not in a disarray,” he added.
Meanwhile, state BJP President Sukanta Majumdar said, “We touch the feet of an aged person. This is the culture of Bengal. Forget about anything. See the age of Dilip Ghosh. He is being kicked!
“Is it the culture of the state? I have not learnt these things. When Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee or Abhishek Banerjee go to Delhi we can also block his way and give ‘Jai Shri Ram’ slogan. Have we done this?
“They are not only killing democracy; they are destroying the culture of the state. The people of Bengal will throw away this proud woman”.
With inputs from IANS, PTI.