Clashes broke out during a roadshow of Bharatiya Janata Party National President Amit Shah in Kolkata on Tuesday. The violence began after sticks were hurled at Shah’s truck, ANI reported.
The scuffle broke out between student activists of the Left Front, Trinamool Congress and Bharatiya Janata Party, The Indian Express reported. Stone pelting incidents were reported near a college hostel on Bidhan Sarani street in the state capital. BJP activists locked the gates of the hostel and set cycles and motorcycles parked outside on fire.
The incident took place as Amit Shah’s convoy was passing by Calcutta University. Student activists of the Trinamool Congress and Left Front showed black flag and waved posters reading “Amit Shah Go Back”, PTI reported.
The roadshow began at 4.30 pm from Esplanade area in Central Kolkata, and was to conclude at Swami Vivekananda’s house in North Kolkata. A statue of Bengali writer and philosopher Ishwar Chandra Vidyasagar near Vidyasagar College was vandalised. Vandals set the college gate on fire. BJP and Trinamool Congress supporters exchanged blows outside the college premises.
BJP workers and supporters chanted “Jai Shri Ram” and “Narendra Modi Zindabad” during the roadshow. On Monday, Amit Shah had dared Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee to arrest him for chanting “Jai Shri Ram”, and said he would be in Kolkata on Tuesday.
Banerjee blamed the BJP for the violence. “You have broken the gate of Vidyasagar College, vandalised the Vidyasagar statue,” she said at a rally in Behala area. “I will not accept this. If you lay your hands on Vidyasagar, what will I call you other than a goonda. I hate your ideology, I hate your ways.”
Unidentified police officers told PTI that a huge contingent had been rushed to the spot and had managed to control the violence.
Shah told ANI after the roadshow that Trinamool Congress “goons” were frustrated with the response the event had received, and hence attacked it. He claimed almost every citizen of Kolkata attended the rally. “I would like to congratulate BJP workers as even after such chaos the roadshow continued and concluded at the planned place and time,” he added.
“There was an attempt by TMC hooligans to attack me,” he said, according to PTI. “Mamata Banerjee tried to provoke violence. But I am safe.”
The BJP chief claimed that the police were mute spectators to the violence. “They deviated from the planned route and took a way where there were traffic jams,” he said. “I was not allowed to reach Swami Vivekananda’s house to pay tributes and I am saddened by it.”
BJP posters removed
Meanwhile, BJP banners and posters, including those of Prime Minister Narendra Modi, were removed from Lenin Sarani before Shah’s roadshow, IANS reported. Cutouts of Shah and BJP’s Kolkata candidate Rahul Sinha were also removed.
BJP National General Secretary Kailash Vijayvargiya said the Election Commission has given permission for the roadshow. “How is it possible that party banners and flags are not allowed?” he asked. “Bengal government’s hooliganism is going on here. We will talk to the Election Commission about this.”
However, the police said the posters were removed based on poll panel directives, as they had been put up on state government properties without permission.
The Lok Sabha elections are being held in seven phases. Voting in West Bengal is being conducted in all these phases. Incidents of violence have been reported during polling in all six phases so far.