West Bengal Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee on Thursday said the Trinamool Congress does not need money from the Bharatiya Janata Party to rebuild the statue of Ishwar Chandra Vidyasagar that was vandalised during violence in Kolkata on Tuesday, PTI reported.
Banerjee was responding to Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s promise, made at a rally in Uttar Pradesh earlier in the day, to install the statue at the same spot.
“Modi has promised to rebuild the Vidyasagar statue in Kolkata,” Banerjee said at a public meeting in Mandirbazar in South 24 Parganas district. “We are not going to take their [BJP’s] money, Bengal has enough resources.”
Banerjee said the saffron party would not be able to restore its heritage even if Modi erected the statue. “You have destroyed 200-year-old heritage,” she added. “We have proof on video of what happened. You claim Trinamool Congress is behind this. Do not you have any shame? The prime minister should do lakhs of sit-ups for lying so much.”
The chief minister also warned BJP supporters that they would not be accepted in society. “Those who go with the BJP should remember that the society will not accept them,” she said. “Those who are siding with the BJP for money, remember that Modi had said that in five years there will be 10 crore jobs. That has not happened, in fact unemployment has gone up instead.”
Borrowing the slogan coined by the Congress, Banerjee urged the crowd at the rally to chant “chowkidar chor hai”. Congress President Rahul Gandhi came up with the phrase to target Modi over the alleged improprieties in the Rafale aircraft deal.
The chief minister also criticised the BJP for spreading fake news on social media, and accused it of attempting to instigate people and cause riots.
Clashes broke out during a roadshow of BJP National President Amit Shah in the College Street area of Kolkata on Tuesday evening after sticks were reportedly thrown at Shah’s vehicle. Posters reading “Amit Shah Go Back” and black flags were waved at the BJP leader.
Student activists of the Left Front, the Trinamool Congress, and the BJP then got into a scuffle. BJP activists locked the gates of the Vidyasagar college hostel and set cycles and bikes on fire.
The following day, the Election Commission curtailed campaigning in the state and said it would end at 10 pm on Thursday, a day earlier than scheduled. But questions have been raised about why the ban comes into force more than two days after the violence, and after Narendra Modi gets done with his election-related events.