West Bengal chief minister Mamata Banerjee's nephew Abhishek has warned that anybody harbouring “evil intentions” towards West Bengal will have their eyes gouged out and their hands chopped off.
Abhishek, who was elected to the Lok Sabha for the first time last year, made the remarks while addressing a meeting of Trinamool Congress workers and leaders at Basirhat in North 24 Paragana district on Monday.
“TMC MPs (have) showed we won’t spare anyone who tries to exploit the people of West Bengal. Until Mamata Banerjee is here, if anyone looks at West Bengal with evil intentions...we can gouge out their eyes and throw them on the streets. If hands are raised against us, we can chop off the hands as well,” Abhishek said.
“But we have to remember that the common man has the last word. If you have the power, come to the elections and try us out," he added.
Several top leaders of the part were present at the gathering. The 27-year-old Abhishek is chief of the party's youth wing.
Abhishek also attacked Prime Minister Narendra Modi with whom his aunt has shown bonhomie in recent public appearances, emphasising that the Centre and state should work together for development.
He said most political parties had “fallen at the feet of (Prime Minister) Narendra Modi but the Trinamool Congress didn’t”.
"He goes around wearing suits worth Rs 15 lakh. They have no shame. (He) used to sell tea earlier, now (he) is selling the country," Abhishek said in an apparent reference to Modi.
Political circles believe the chief minister is trying to use her nephew to portray that she is not fully aligned with Modi – something that is politically uncomfortable for her because of her dependence on the Muslim minority as a vote bank. Muslims make up about 30% of the state’s population.
Abhishek’s remarks were reminiscent of public utterances by fellow party lawmaker Tapas Pal last year that triggered a major controversy. Addressing a meeting, the actor-turned-politician had threatened to kill CPI-M workers and have their women raped.
“If any CPI-M man is present here, listen to me. If you ever touch any Trinamool Congress worker or their families…you have to pay for this…If you insult the mothers and daughters of Trinamool workers, then I won't spare you. I will let loose my boys in your homes and they will commit rape,” Pal had said.
The Trinamool Congress faced considerable embarrassment after a video of Pal’s comments was aired on TV news channels.
The BJP criticised Abhishek’s remarks, with party spokesperson GVLN Rao saying: “If they think they will scare people by using such language, there will be a revolution in Bengal.
“Thats the only way TMC can win elections, by unleashing terror,” he added.
"What Abhisekh Banerjee has said is in the DNA of Trinamool Congress. This is not democracy but anarchy. Abhisekh Banerjee is just a symbol of that political culture," said BJP national secretary Sidharth Nath Singh.
CPI-M leader Sujan Chakravarty too criticised Abhishek, saying: "It has been confirmed that Abhisekh Banerjee is the heir apparent to the Trinamool throne. His aunt must be very happy. What more can one expect from Trinamool leaders?
“Ever since they came to power, they have unleashed a terror brigade in the state. What's more unfortunate, the chief minister condones such words and actions. And now it's her own family members issuing threats.”
Veteran Congress leader Abdul Mannan remarked: "It's the political culture of the ruling party in Bengal. They are proving it every day."
Over the past few years, several Trinamool leaders have issued threats at public events. In July 2013, Birbhum district president Anubrata Mondal urged his supporters to set fire to homes of dissident party members and to hurl bombs at police if they dared to intervene.
In July 2013, Trinamool MLA Manirul Islam threatened to behead an opposition leader while speaking at a public meeting and went on to boast that he had trampled three persons to death.
Just a few months after coming to power, the chief minister walked into Bhawanipore police station near her home and walked out with a few youths detained by police for creating trouble at a Durga Puja immersion procession.
Trinamool student wing leaders too have threatened to bomb police stations in Ranigunj last week and to rape teachers at a college in Malda earlier this month.