Away from national glare, BJP caught in a bitter tit-for-tat in West Bengal | india-news | Hindustan Times
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Away from national glare, BJP caught in a bitter tit-for-tat in West Bengal

india Updated: Jan 20, 2017 01:28 IST
Ravik Bhattacharya
Ravik Bhattacharya
Kolkata, Hindustan Times
Mamata Banerjee

The tug of war between the Narendra Modi and Mamata Banerjee governments, which was confined to the administrative corridors, has now spilled on to the streets.(Samir Jana/HT Photo)

Though five states are going to the polls with high profile political battles in Uttar Pradesh and Punjab, the real action is taking place in West Bengal, where the Trinamool Congress and the BJP are locked in a no-holds-barred fight on multiple fronts.

The latest spark was the arrest of Trinamool MP Sudip Bandopadhyay by the CBI, which the ruling party says has suddenly swung into action. What followed ranged from attacks on BJP offices to filing police complaints against its top leaders, denial of permission for BJP rallies and even a compensation row between the PMO and the state government.

In fact, chief minister Mamata Banerjee had openly warned of a tit-for-tat reprisal.

“The arrest of our leaders by CBI is nothing but political vendetta. This is because we protested against the ill effects of demonetisation. What if we arrest their leaders?” said an angry Mamata after the MP’s arrest on January 3.

Read I In veiled warning, BJP warns TMC to ‘mend its ways or face consequences’

The tug of war between the Centre and state, which was confined to the administrative corridors, has now spilled on to the streets.

“This is a politics of pressure...In my opinion, the UP polls and BJP’s fate will decide whether this face-off will escalate or not,” says political analyst Shibaji Pratim Basu.

On January 3, soon after the arrest of Bandopadhyay, the TMC chief whip in Lok Sabha, the BJP headquarters in Kolkata was attacked and over a dozen party workers were injured. This was followed by attacks and arson at other BJP offices in the state.

Soon after the arrest of TMC Lok Sabha MP Sudip Bandyopadhyay in Rose Valley chit fund scam, the BJP office in Kolkata was allegedly attacked by TMC workers on January 3. (Ashok Nath Dey/HT Photo)

“If Trinamool MPs are arrested they should prove their innocence in court. The attacks on BJP offices and FIRs against their leaders are unacceptable,” says Amal Mukhopadhyay, political scientist and former principal of Presidency College.

Then on January 11, the TMC-ruled Asansol municipality denied permission for ‘Sansad Mela’ organised by Union minister Babul Supriyo. Similar hurdles were put by Kolkata Police when they disallowed a rally of RSS chief Mohan Bhagwat on Makar Sankranti. In both cases the organisers had to approach the High Court get the go-ahead.

Read I Hindus cannot live freely in parts of India: RSS chief Mohan Bhagwat

Meanwhile, an FIR was lodged against Supriyo in Alipore police station on a complaint of Trinamool MLA Mahua Maitra for objectionable comments during a TV show.

The tit for tat went to a bizarre level after a minor stampeded at Gangasagar mela where 6 persons died. While the PMO was quick to announce compensation, the Mamata government denied the incident took place.

On 16 January, even BJP national general secretary Kailash Vijayvargiya had a police complaint lodged against him in Hooghly district by a Trinamool leader, who claimed he had used objectionable words against the chief minister.

Two days later, Trinamool Congress workers also lodged police complaints against state BJP president Dilip Ghosh.

On the same day, Babul Supriyo’s convoy was pelted with stones by Trinamool Congress workers in Asansol.

BJP state leadership on the other hand has knocked on the doors of governor Keshari Nath Tripathi, demanding President’s rule in the state.

“The chief minister is scared and a fear psychosis is working in her mind. BJP has become the only opposition in Bengal, our vote share is rising. So she is using the administration to put obstacles on our path. I assure you she will not be successful,” said Sayantan Basu, BJP state secretary.