Bharatiya Janata Party President Amit Shah on Wednesday claimed that it would have been very difficult for him to escape during the violence at his roadshow in Kolkata the previous day if central paramilitary forces were not there for his security. He accused the Election Commission of being a “mute spectator” to violent incidents in West Bengal, and accused the Trinamool Congress of orchestrating the clashes.
“It is only in West Bengal that violence has taken place in all six phases of the Lok Sabha elections so far,” Shah said at a press conference. “This makes it clear that the Trinamool Congress is indulging in violence.”
Referring to Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee’s accusation that it is the BJP that indulges in violence in the state, Shah said: “You are contesting only 42 seats, but BJP is contesting in all states of the country against various parties, but nowhere except in West Bengal has violence taken place. If BJP was doing the violence, it would have happened all over the country.”
Shah denied claims that BJP workers were behind the arson on Tuesday, and asked why they would vandalise their own vehicles. He said there were three attacks on his roadshow, and in the third one, a bottle of kerosene and stones were thrown.
Shah claimed that the state police had not investigated the incident, nor had they tried to arrest anyone. He said that the police had instead filed a case against him. “Mamata Didi, we BJP leaders are not afraid of FIRs,” he added.
On Tuesday, clashes had broken out during Amit Shah’s roadshow in Kolkata. Stone-pelting incidents were reported near a college hostel. BJP activists locked the gates of the hostel and set cycles and motorcycles parked outside on fire. A bust of 19th-century philosopher Ishwar Chandra Vidyasagar was smashed, and BJP and Trinamool Congress supporters exchanged blows outside the premises of Vidyasagar College.
Shah escaped unhurt but was forced to cut short his event. He said after the roadshow that Trinamool Congress “goons” were frustrated with the response the event had received, and hence attacked it. He called the incident “a black chapter in democracy”.
Mamata Banerjee, however, blamed the BJP for the violence. “What does Amit Shah think of himself?” she asked, according to the Hindustan Times. “Is he above everything? Is he God that no one can protest against him?”
Kolkata Police Commissioner Rajesh Kumar told The Indian Express that over 100 people had been detained.
A BJP delegation urged the Election Commission on Tuesday evening to bar Mamata Banerjee from campaigning in the state, accusing Banerjee of being complicit in instigating the violence against BJP workers.
The Election Commission has sought a report on the BJP’s allegations from its special observer, according to The Indian Express.
One more phase of Lok Sabha elections remains to be held on May 19. All previous phases have seen incidents of violence at polling booths and clashes between supporters of the BJP and the Trinamool Congress.