The six phases of 2019 general elections for the 17thLok Sabha are over and incidents of poll violence were witnessed in its every phase. The last phase of the ongoing Lok Sabha elections is due on May 19 and West Bengal has managed to engage all the eyeballs and take the centre stage in national political skull sessions with the latest conflict around the destruction of the statue of 19th century reformer Ishwar Chandra Vidyasagar on Tuesday following a widespread violence during BJP President Amit Shah’s roadshow in Kolkata. As per reports, the BJP workers and the student wing of Trinamool Congress clashed on Kolkata’s College Street, and as claimed by TMC, BJP workers allegedly barged into a college named after the social reformer (Vidyasagar College) and smashed a bust of the Bengal icon and renowned social reformer.Moreover, the political dogfight and violence have added colours to the locals versus outsiders conflict between the regional parties that include TMC and the opposition parties at one side and the Bharatiya Janata Party on the other. While the police reportedly have arrested 58 people for their involvement in the violence, the CM Mamata Banerjee-led Trinamool Congress claimed that most of them are not residents of Bengal.
On being asked to respond to Kolkata violence, Partha Chatterjee, senior Trinamool Congress leader and the Minister for Education and Parliamentary Affairs of West Bengal, said in conversation with Afternoon Voice, “BJP is responsible for the violence in Kolkata, we have proof. BJP is not going to get anything in West Bengal. TMC is number one party in the state and it will remain so. The Congress and the CPM are guilty for emergence of the BJP as prominent political force in West Bengal.”
The poll finale on May 19 to see voting for the nine of Bengal’s 42 Lok Sabha seats along with state capital Kolkata.All the political parties are driving their campaigning in full swing while the party at Centre, BJP managed to secure two LS seats from Bengal in 2014, keeping no stones unturned to strengthen its foothold in the state this time.
Debasree Chaudhuri, General Secretary of West Bengal BJP said, “Mamata Banerjee has a history of vandalism. People are aware of the style of agitation of Didi. She even vandalized in the state assembly. TMC supporters are engaged in vandalism in Kolkata to divert people’s attention. We could not damage the statue of social reformer Ishwar Chandra Vidyasagar. We, BJP workers are builder of statue.It is conspiracy of TMC. People of West Bengal are aware about this. They will punish the ruling party on May 19 in the state.”
In this crucial political atmosphere, when both the ruler and the challenger are in a neck-to-neck battle, the violence has angered the Bengalis while many took to social media and held the saffron party accountable for attacking the history and culture of the state.The regional political parties used the anti-BJP sentiment and launched their protests and attacks against the NarendraModi-led government.
The Congress MLA from Bankura Daripa Shampa said, “Kolkata violence is unfortunate for the democracy. Political parties should exercise restraint. People of the state will give their response through ballot.”
While Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee boldly targeted Amit Shah, Narendra Modi and their party for bringing in goons in the state to add fuel to initiate communal riots and division, Amit Shah claimed that Trinamool Congress workers themselves broke into clashes to create unrest in his rally, had smashed the statue, and blaming BJP instead to tarnish the image of the party and gain sympathy. The party in the centre had also asked the Election Commission to ban Mamata Banerjee from poll campaigning.
The CPM MLA from Raniganj Runu Datta said, “Both the Trinamool and the BJP are responsible for violence in Kolkata. Both parties are creating the chaos. In spite of these unfortunate incidents, CPM hopes for a peaceful voting on May 19 in West Bengal.”
Ishwar Chandra Vidyasagar, who has brought great reforms in the Indian society, is recalled as a philosopher, writer, philanthropist, and a man who was ahead of his time.He holds a high place in every Bengali’s heart and was one of the key figures of the Bengal Renaissance; his standardised alphabet is used to write the Bengali language even today. He was vocal about the cause of widow remarriage and introduced the practice and pushed for the Widow Remarriage Act XV of 1856.
In a recent brief interview with an online new media, the Bengal Chief Minister refused the accusations against her party of involving in ruthlessness and stridently criticised the BJP for infusing violence during elections. Calling PM a ‘fascist’, ‘egoist’, ‘proudy’, and ‘adamant’, she said that Bengalis respect their sons of the soil and don’t fear to speak out boldly and strongly. She also said that the ones who think politics means goondaism, hooliganism must go from politics. On the other hand, Prime Minister Narendra Modi, acknowledging the huge backlash after Ishwar Chandra Vidyasagar’s statue was broken into pieces, promised to install his “grand statue” at the same spot and in its reply, CM Mamata rejected his proposal and said, “Bengal does not seek alms from BJP. We have the money for a new bust of Vidyasagar, who was part of Bengal Renaissance. Don’t you (BJP) feel ashamed saying that Bengal has been reduced to a state of being a pauper”?Banerjee referred to a comment by Shah at a poll rally at Canning earlier this week in which he had said that under Banerjee government “Sonar(golden) Bangla has become Kangal(pauper) Bangla”.