West Bengal chief minister Mamata Banerjee’s nephew and Trinamool Congress MP Abhishek Banerjee was slapped at a rally on Sunday with the Opposition calling it yet another sign of infighting in a party beleaguered by corruption charges.
The Diamond Harbour MP was slapped by a young man — identified as Debashish Acharya — while addressing a meeting at Chandipur in east Midnapur district.
The area is a Trinamool stronghold and close to Nandigram that figured prominently in Mamata’s 2011 election campaign.
Party workers allowed Acharya to go on stage on the pretext of taking a photo as soon as Abhishek started talking. He, however, slapped the Trinamool youth wing president twice on the cheek.
Acharya was then thrashed by party workers on stage and admitted to the district hospital in a critical condition. Trinamool supporters also charged at media personnel and ransacked the local police station, alleging that failure to provide proper security for the MP had led to the incident.
The incident comes at a time when Bengal’s ruling party is embroiled in the multi-crore Saradha scam, with top leaders such as Madan Mitra arrested on corruption charges in a CBI probe.
The trail of the scandal had led to cracks appearing in the party, HT had reported earlier.
Trinamool Congress leaders denied reports of Acharya being a party worker and pointed to his statement to a TV channel, where he allegedly said, “I will be born again to establish a Hindu Rashtra.”
“His (Acharya’s) pro-Hindutva comment reveals BJP hand behind it. It’s worrying,” party secretary general Partha Chatterjee said.
Trinamool’s national spokesperson Derek O’Brien said the incident may have been a plan to attack Abhishek and threaten his life. “Now it is up to the administration to inquire into the matter,” he said.
The BJP, however, ruled out any involvement of the saffron party. “Acharya was almost dying. It’s natural that a Hindu would like to be born again as a Hindu,” Sinha told HT.
BJP national secretary Siddharth Nath Singh also indicated an insider hand. “East Midnapore is a Trinamool stronghold and it was a party meeting. There seems to be a civil war in the state,” he said.
The rift between Abhishek and local party leaders such as Sisir Adhikari and his son Suvendu Adhikari, both Lok Sabha MPs, is well known. Abhishek replaced Suvendu as the head of the party’s youth wing last year, infuriating a section of party workers.