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‘Bengal not a toy, can’t play with it’: Mamata hammers BJP at statue event

Mamata Banerjee attacked the BJP at an event to unveil Ishwar Chandra Vidyasagar’s new statue.

india Updated: Jun 11, 2019 18:20 IST
HT Correspondent
HT Correspondent
Hindustan Times, New Delhi
Mamata Banerjee,Bengal CM,BJP
Bengal chief minister Mamata Banerjee an event to unveil a new statue of Bengal reformer Ishwar Chandra Vidyasagar that was vandalized during the Lok Sabha elections. (Samir Jana/HT Photo)

Bengal chief minister Mamata Banerjee on Tuesday launched an acerbic attack at the Bharatiya Janata Party at an event to unveil a new statue of Bengal reformer Ishwar Chandra Vidyasagar that was vandalized during the Lok Sabha elections.

“Bengal is not a toy. You cannot play with it. You cannot do anything you want with Bengal,” the chief minister said at the event also attended by Trinamool Congress leaders, Bengal ministers and some spiritual leaders.

But the message was aimed at the BJP and the national coalition that it leads in Delhi. The BJP had made wide inroads into Bengal, scoring 18 of the state’s 42 Lok Sabha seats and has upped its campaign against her. The win is also seen as a setback for the Trinamool Congress chief who was once seen to be aspiring for a role in national politics.

WATCH | Mamata unveils new Vidyasagar bust, jabs Centre amid fresh TMC-BJP clashes

The 19th century reformer’s statue that she unveiled replaces the one that was broken into pieces during clashes that took place around the time BJP president Amit Shah was holding a roadshow in Kolkata. An educationist, philanthropist, social reformer, Ishwar Chandra Vidyasagar was a leading figure of the Bengal Renaissance who championed women’s education and widow remarriage in an orthodox Hindu society.

“I won in the state after 34 years of Left rule but I didn’t have vandalise statues of Karl Marx and Lenin,” she said.

Mamata Banerjee and her government accuses the BJP of vandalizing the statue, a charge that BJP boss Amit Shah has denied in the past.

As the chief minister again hurled the accusation at BJP chief Amit Shah on Tuesday, she insisted that her government had “all the documents” to establish its allegation and asked why the vandalism happened in the rally of a person who has now become the country’s home minister.

Mamata Banerjee also announced that four bronze statues of Ashutosh Mukherjee, Rabindranath Tagore, Vidyasagar, Kazi Nazrul Islam would be installed on college street.

The chief minister also responded to the BJP accusing her of minority appeasement and blaming the Trinamool cadre for vandalizing the statue and the violence that has continued in Bengal after the election results have been declared. “I have done for everything… from temples to mosques, but then I have to hear that I appease Muslims,” she said.

“They said that Trinamool Congress vandalised the statue. How dare they say this?... Had the TMC workers done this, I would have slapped them,” she said, accusing the BJP of spreading lies about the violence too. “Ten people have died (in political violence)... Eight of them are from the Trinamool,” she said, adding that the government will take care of their families.

First Published: Jun 11, 2019 15:01 IST