Political mudslinging overshadowed the gangrape of an elderly nun in West Bengal on Tuesday with the Trinamool Congress taking out a rally on Tuesday, a day after chief minister Mamata Banerjee blamed the saffron party and the Left for the crime that hasn't seen any arrests yet.
Trinamool MPs blamed the BJP for orchestrating angry protests that blocked Banerjee's convoy Monday evening when she was returning after visiting the 71-year-old nun, who was gang-raped at a convent in Ranaghat town of Nadia district last week, a crime that sparked nationwide outrage with activists demanding a CBI probe.
"This is a conspiracy by the CPI(M)-BJP. I condemn such politics," Banerjee was heard shouting at the crowd that predominantly included locals and uniform-wearing students of the convent where the nun worked.
"Initially, it was a spontaneous protest by the students. But what happened on Monday evening was clearly the handiwork of the CPI(M) and BJP. It is shameful that despite the best efforts of the CM, opposition parties are bringing in politics," said Abir Basu, a Trinamool Congress MLA from Ranaghat.
The Opposition ridiculed the claim, saying the state government was trying to give the incident a political colour after failing to nab a single culprit, despite television channels airing footage showing four of the eight accused.
"The chief minister is trying to hide her failure. To cover up her failure to handle the situation and arrest the culprits, she is blaming BJP," said Sidharth Nath Singh, BJP national secretary and observer for West Bengal. The party has planned a protest to the state secretariat on Wednesday.
The Opposition has launched a concerted attack on Banerjee with Congress state president Adhir Choudhury scheduled to meet President Pranab Mukherjee over the issue. Even the SUCI took out a rally in Kolkata, protesting against the deteriorating law and order in the state.
"Women are not safe in Bengal and the administration is a failure. The chief minister is politising to cloak her shortcomings," added Singh.
The crime has come as a setback for the state government, already on the back foot over issues of women's safety, and has rekindled the debate whether minorities were safe in the country. On Tuesday, Ranaghat wore a deserted look with shops and schools closed in protest as locals demanded the immediate arrest of the perpetrators.
(With inputs from agencies)