Trinamool Congress leader Derek O'Brien on Monday accused the Bharatiya Janata Party and the Rashtriya Swayamsevak Sangh of trying to communalise the Malda riot. The quizmaster-turned-MP told NDTV that the BJP was desperate to give the incident a communal angle ahead the West Bengal elections later this year.

O'Brien said the "social media army" of the BJP and RSS was responsible for the Malda incident trending on Twitter, adding that the mainstream media was then pressurised to take it up. He accused the social media armies of indulging in "cheap, dirty tricks by circulating pictures taken 13 months ago".

The 54-year-old Rajya Sabha MP said he was not surprised by the tactics. "This is what I call CIN 100 – Communal Insensitive Narrative, 100 days before polls," he said. He added that BJP tried the same tactic in Bihar and Uttar Pradesh before the state elections.

BJP spokesperson Siddharth Nath Singh dismissed O'Brien's allegations, saying the party never claimed what happened in Malda was communal. He also accused the Trinamool Congress of protecting criminals. Earlier in the day, three BJP members were detained at Malda railway station. They were reportedly asked to return as they would not be allowed to visit Kaliachak, where the riot took place on January 3.