A statue of communist icon Vladimir Ilyich Ulyanov, or Lenin, in Tripura was brought down on Monday by suspected Bharatiya Janata Party workers celebrating their party’s victory in the Assembly elections. They used a bulldozer to knock down the statue in Belonia town near Agartala, reportedly shouting “Bharat Mata ki jai” while razing it, The Indian Express reported.
The Communist Party of India (Marxist), which had ruled the state for 25 years, said the act was an example of “communism phobia”. “Eyewitnesses told me that after the statue fell, its head got separated from the body and BJP workers played football with it,” the party’s Belonia sub-division secretary Tapas Datta told The Indian Express.
The BJP, however, said the incident showed there was an “overflow of anger”. “For years, there has been resentment against this statue of Lenin,” said BJP South District Secretary Raju Nath, who the CPI(M) blames for the incident. “It was built by the municipality and funded by the taxpayers’ money. Why should the taxpayer have to finance a statue of Lenin?”
Nath said if the statue was of former CPI(M) Chief Minister Nripen Chakraborty, “nobody would have touched it”. “But what does this foreigner Lenin have to do with our people?’’ he said, according to The Indian Express.
But BJP Spokesperson Mrinal Kanti Deb said he was not aware of any such incident. “If it happened, the BJP did not approve such a move,” he said, according to The Telegraph.
South Tripura Superintendent of Police Ipper Monchak said the driver of the bulldozer was arrested and let off on bail. “The statue is where it fell,” he said. “We will hand it over to the municipality for storage.”
The CPI(M) also staged a protest in Kolkata against the incident.
Meanwhile, Home Affairs Minister Rajnath Singh spoke to Tripura Governor Tathagata Roy and the police and asked them keep a check on violence till a new government was formed in the state, PTI reported. The state has adequate central security forces and state police personnel to maintain the law-and-order situation and restore peace, the news agency quoted a Home Ministry spokesperson as saying.