A rally by West Bengal’s ruling Trinamool Congress in Kolkata on Tuesday created a stir as the controversial “goli maaro [shoot the traitors]” slogan was heard, reported Anandabazaar Patrika. Among those who took part in the “peace rally” were South Kolkata MP Mala Roy, state ministers Shobhandeb Chattopadhyay and Arup Roy and district TMC chief Debashish Kumar.
Reports are not clear as to who shouted the controversial slogan. Mala Roy, however, was heard issuing threats to the Bharatiya Janata Party, reported NDTV. “The next time you [BJP] come and create trouble in south Kolkata, we will not only break your legs but also crush your heads,” Roy said as she addressed the public meeting at the end of the rally.
The TMC’s rally was a show of strength against the BJP, which had held a roadshow on Monday along the same route – from Tollygunge tram depot to Rashbehari. Clashes had erupted on Monday between TMC and BJP supporters at three different places after stones were pelted at saffron party workers.
TMC spokesperson Kunal Ghosh admitted that the controversial slogan should not have been shouted at the party’s rally. He blamed it on “some over-enthusiastic party supporters”, according to NDTV. Debashish Kumar, on the other hand, said that the party does not endorse such slogans. “This is not our culture,” he told Anandabazaar Patrika. “All this have been imported by the BJP.”
This is the second time that the “goli maaro” slogan has been shouted in Kolkata in the past one year. On March 2, BJP supporters heading for an Amit Shah rally had shouted the slogan. At least four supporters were later arrested on the basis of a video footage.
The incendiary slogan has been used by BJP leaders. The slogan made headlines in January last year when Union minister Anurag Thakur used it against anti-citizenship law protestors in Delhi. BJP leader Kapil Mishra was also caught on camera shouting the slogan.
The West Bengal elections, to be held in April-May, will be a closely-watched contest as the BJP has indicated that the polls in the state are one of its priorities. The ruling TMC and the BJP have locked horns much ahead of the polls. While the BJP has claimed that the law and order situation in the state has deteriorated, the TMC has accused the saffron party of indulging in communal politics and spreading false information.