West Bengal Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee on Tuesday installed a new bust of Ishwar Chandra Vidyasagar at a college in Kolkata where the old bust was vandalised in clashes on May 14. Violence brok out last month at Ishwar Chandra Vidyasagar College during a roadshow organised by Bharatiya Janata Party President Amit Shah.
Earlier in the day, Banerjee had unveiled the bust at Hare School on College Street and paid floral tributes to the leader at a ceremonial programme. Several Trinamool Congress leaders, Bengal ministers, and some spiritual leaders attended the event, ANI reported.
On Tuesday evening, the West Bengal chief minister also unveiled an 8.5-ft white fibre-glass statue of Vidyasagar in the college’s courtyard. She promised to build a dedicated museum for the social reformer inside the college campus and said that the state government would provide Rs 1 crore for it.
After unveiling the bust near Hare school, Banerjee alleged that there was a plan to defame Bengal and people need to come together to save its culture. “There is a conspiracy to forget the rich legacy of Bengal,” she claimed. “A plan is being hatched to turn Bengal into Gujarat. Bengal is not Gujarat.”
She also claimed that BJP has taken full control of the media to show West Bengal in a poor light. “Kill me if needed. I don’t need anything, I work for the people,” she said. “A lot of people are killed in Uttar Pradesh and children die but it does not come out anywhere in the media as it is all controlled by them.”
Banerjee also criticised West Bengal Governor Keshari Nath Tripathi for meeting with Prime Minister Narendra Modi and Home Minister Amit Shah on Monday after the Sandeshkhali killings where a few BJP and TMC workers were killed. The Centre had sent an advisory to West Bengal government, expressing “deep concern” for the situation in the state.
The West Bengal Chief Minister said that she respected the governor “but every post has its constitutional limit”.
Ten people had been killed in post-poll violence in West Bengal and eight of them were from Trinamool Congress while two were BJP supporters, Banerjee said. She said that the families of all the deceased will be provided assistance from the state’s disaster management fund.
A few days after the vandalism, Prime Minister Narendra Modi had said that the BJP will install a grand statue of Vidyasagar at the same spot where his bust was desecrated. Modi had also blamed “goons of Trinamool Congress” for unleashing violence at the roadshow.
However, Banerjee had rejected Modi’s offer. “We are not going to take their [BJP’s] money, Bengal has enough resources,” she had said.