A group of CPM’s student activists heckled Mamata Banerjee and beat up her three ministers outside the planning commission headquarters on Tuesday, which saw the Bengal CM remind the Left that such incidents in 1990s had propelled her career.
Prime Minister Manmohan Singh called Banerjee to enquire her wellbeing after she cancelled a meeting with him, complaining of health complications. The Delhi Police also beefed up her security.
Dubbing the incident “completely unruly and unwarranted”, planning commission deputy chief Montek Singh Ahluwalia and minister of state Rajeev Shukla apologised to the Trinamool leader.
“The protest was legitimate but the manner in which things unfolded, we disapprove of it,” CPM leader Nilotpal Basu said.
The Students Federation of India (SFI) and CPM activists were protesting the recent death of student leader Sudipta Gupta in the Kolkata police lock-up “If this culture (of CPM violence) starts, nobody can even meet Prime Minister or hold official meetings. I came here to meet planning commission for development of Bengal. They can kill me, but can’t stop me,” a furious Banerjee said.
Later, a doctor from All India Institute of Medical Sciences was also sent to check on her.
Banerjee's finance minister Amit Mitra, who was hit with bamboo staffs and his kurta torn, got admitted to AIIMS but not before attending the plan panel meeting and a press conference.
Minutes before Banerjee was to arrive at the Yojna Bhawan for a meeting at 3.30pm, around 50 CPM and SFI activists blocked the entrance.
Banerjee was advised to enter through another gate but she refused. "Why should I enter through backdoor?" she said. She tried to walk past protesters after her car got stuck in front of the main gate.
As soon as she started, protesters attacked her and ministers Subrata Mukherjee and Firhad Hakim.
Another group assaulted Mitra when he arrived separately.
"They even had an iron rod like one they used in 1990 when they hit me on head," Banerjee, who had to be hospitalised then, claimed. The SFI, however, denied the charge.
After the CISF jawans managed to get her in safely, a fuming Banerjee first threatened to boycott the meeting. Ahluwalia could be heard pleading "Didi, peace, peace" as Banerjee vented her anger for "CPM's hooliganism".