BJP, TMC lock horns over CM Mamata’s injury at Nandigram, parties approach EC
- Sticking to Banerjee’s version of the story, a five-member team of TMC Parliamentarians met the ECI in Delhi on Friday morning and alleged in its letter that “the attack was premeditated and part of a deep-rooted conspiracy…”
Whether West Bengal chief minister and Trinamool Congress (TMC) chief Mamata Banerjee was injured in an accident at Nandigram in East Midnapore, where she is contesting the Bharatiya Janata Party’s (BJP) Suvendu Adhikari, or whether it was a planned attack as she had alleged, fanned debates even after she was released from hospital on Friday evening, more than 48 hours after the incident which gave a new spin to the election narrative.
Even as the Election Commission of India (ECI) and the West Bengal police got into a fact-checking exercise, with the former seeking a report on Banerjee’s security on Wednesday, the TMC and the BJP aimed salvos at each other to make the most out of the situation 19 days before the eight-phase elections.
Sticking to Banerjee’s version of the story, a five-member team of TMC Parliamentarians met the ECI in Delhi on Friday morning and alleged in its letter that “the attack was premeditated and part of a deep-rooted conspiracy…”
To back its claim, the TMC cited several social media posts and comments by BJP leaders, including Prime Minister Narendra Modi.
One of the posts included a caricature, showing Banerjee hitting the dust in Nandigram, that Bengal BJP president Dilip Ghosh posted on March 8. The TMC’s letter said that around the time when Ghosh posted the caricature, the BJP lodged numerous complaints with the ECI and demanded the removal of the director general of police. The ECI “abruptly” removed the DGP on March 9, the letter said.
In the early hours of March 10, the letter said, BJP Lok Sabha member Saumitra Khan tweeted to Union minister Babul Supriyo, “You will come to know tomorrow after 5 pm.” HT could not find this tweet on Khan’s handle.
TMC Lok Sabha member Saugata Roy, who was part of the delegation, said, “Even the Prime Minister said at his recent rally in Kolkata that Mamata Banerjee’s scooty would fall in Nandigram. The entire episode smells of a conspiracy.”
On the other hand, the BJP’s stand kept shifting. A section of saffron camp leaders - Barrackpore Lok Sabha member and Banerjee’s former party colleague Arjun Singh being one of them - consistently accused the chief minister of making up a story about a planned assault to draw public sympathy before the elections. Another section, the face of which remained the Bengal BJP’s chief spokesperson Samik Bhattacharya, attempted to strike a balance, saying the BJP does not want to drag politics into the incident and wants Banerjee to recover fast.
On Friday evening, a BJP delegation led by Rajya Sabha member Swapan Dasgupta and national spokesperson Sambit Patra met EC officials in Kolkata with the demand for a through probe. The leaders also urged the EC to check video footages since Banerjee came under watch of the EC the moment she filed her nomination on Wednesday afternoon.
“We also want a special observer for Nandigram since it is a high-profile constituency,” Dasgupta said after the meeting.
“The TMC is distorting the Prime Minister’s comment at the rally. He never said Mamata Banerjee would get hurt in Nandigram,” said Bhattacharya.
Late on Thursday night, the Bengal BJP’s Twitter handle posted a clip from a Bengali movie in which a politician can be heard telling his men that a fake attack on him would help him land in hospital and address rallies from a wheelchair.
“Any resemblance to recent events is purely coincidental…” tweeted the BJP.