Two days before the Howrah civic polls, vandals desecrated a statue of former chief minister Jyoti Basu, who was one of the longest serving heads of state of any communist government.
They also set fire to an adjacent primary school that will double up as a polling booth on Friday.
Early on Wednesday morning, locals of JN Mukherjee Road at Salkia found Basu’s statue wrecked and tar poured over it. The statue of veteran communist leader Pulak Banerjee, adjacent to the one of Basu, also had tar poured on it.
The incident spread tension in the area and irate CPI(M) supporters blocked the road in protest. Fingers were pointed at the Trinamool Congress, which denied a hand in the incident.
“With the Howrah civic polls round the corner, the motive behind desecration of Jyoti Basu’s statue is clear,” remarked opposition leader Suryakanta Mishra.
CPI(M) leaders allege Basu’s statue has been desecrated to create a fear psychosis among voters there prior to polls. The party also lodged a complaint with the police. Even the Congress has lodged a strong protest against the incident.
The Trinamool has vehemently denied its involvement in the whole incident.
“Trinamool Congress is in no way associated with the desecration of the statues. This is not our culture. I have instructed the police commissioner to conduct a proper inquiry and find out the guilty,” district Trinamool Congress president and agriculture marketing minister Arup Roy said.
“Such incidents are against the political culture of Bengal. How acceptable is Jyoti Basu to the people of Bengal is a debatable issue. But such debates hold true for every politician as well. Someone may not accept his ideas. But that should be countered politically and not by desecrating his statue. After all, he is a political figure,” said Congress leader Abdul Mannan.
CPI( M) state committee member Rabin Deb alleged that Trinamool supporters had earlier damaged a bust of communist leader Muzzafar Ahmed at Pursura in West Midnapore. “The latest incident is only an addition to the Trinamool’s politics of vengeance,” Deb said.
Barely metres away from where Basu’s statue was desecrated, goons also tried to set on fire the Shankarlal Memorial Primary School.
The fire, however, could not take a bigger shape and burnt only a small portion of the school.