Intensifying its attack on the saffron party over the vandalism of a bust of 19th-century social reformer Ishwar Chandra Vidyasagar during the violence in Kolkata, the Trinamool Congress on Wednesday released videos to claim that “BJP goons” damaged the statue.
Trinamool Parliamentary team comprising Derek O’Brien, Sukhendu Sekhar Ray, Manish Gupta, Nadimul Haque also met the Election Commission over the issue and submitted “proof” in support of their claim.
In a letter to the poll body, the TMC has alleged that the “armed” attack was “pre-planned” and was organised by the BJP to “let loose a reign of terror” ahead of the seventh phase of the Lok Sabha elections.
“A few photographs and a video clipping are attached with the sincere hope and belief that the ECI shall initiate appropriate action at least this time after considering the entire incident in its proper perspective,” the letter to the poll body stated.
Earlier, at a press conference here, TMC leader Derek O’Brien said, “The video not only clearly establishes what the BJP did, but proves that its chief Amit Shah is a liar and ‘dhokebaaz’ (cheater).”
The reaction from the TMC came close on the heels of BJP president Amit Shah accusing the West Bengal’s ruling party of indulging in violence in the state and alleged that the poll panel has been a “mute spectator”.
“The streets of Kolkata are tinged with shock and anger. What happened yesterday hurt Bengali pride,” O’Brien said, adding the TMC will submit the videos, it has, to the poll panel and is authenticating them on record.
One of the videos shows a group of men purportedly trying to break down the gate of the Vidyasagar College and enter the campus by jumping over its walls.
“It is a childish argument to ask who had the keys to the gate? The video establishes beyond doubt who desecrated the statue,” O’Brien said, claiming his party has as many as 44 videos to support its claims.
The party also showed a video and WhatsApp message allegedly by a BJP supporter asking people to come to Shah’s roadshow with rods and arms to fight the TMC and police.
“We are trying to obtain and authenticate audio of slogans like ‘Vidyasagar finished, where is the Josh’ raised during the violence,” O’Brien said and alleged that the Central forces deployed in West Bengal have started a “whisper campaign” asking people to vote for the BJP.
“The Central forces are in cahoots with the BJP. We have written to the EC thrice and this will be our fourth letter,” the TMC leader said.
BJP and TMC supporters on Tuesday fought pitched battles on the streets of Kolkata during a massive road show by Shah, who escaped unhurt but was forced to cut short the jamboree and had to be escorted to safety by the police.
Parts of the city plunged into a welter of violence as his convoy was attacked with stones by alleged TMC supporters from inside the hostel of Vidyasagar College, triggering a clash between supporters of the two parties.
Furious BJP supporters retaliated and were seen exchanging blows with their TMC rivals outside the college entrance.
The Trinamool Congress also accused Deputy Election Commissioner Sudeep Jain of giving orders to the police not to intervene in BJP issues in the state.
“Jain has influenced the police not to interfere in what the BJP is doing in the election campaign, more so in the case of Amit Shah. The model code of conduct is being violated by them with impunity. There were drunken ‘outsiders’ who were part of this violence.
“They have been brought by the BJP from Jharkhand, Uttar Pradesh and Bihar and kept in hotels and private houses. The same people have been seen in Shah’s roadshow and the ensuing violence,” TMC leader Manish Gupta said.