BJP slams Mamata Banerjee’s ‘block CRPF’ remark, goes to election commission
- West Bengal assembly elections 2021 will see polling in five more phases, for which chief minister Mamata Banerjee and Union home minister Amit Shah have been campaigning in the state.
As Union home minister Amit Shah, Uttar Pradesh chief minister Yogi Adityanath and Trinamool Congress (TMC) chief Mamata Banerjee campaigned for the fourth of the eight-phase elections, the state chief minister drew flak from the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) for asking women voters to gherao central force personnel.
Referring to the Central Reserve Police Force (CRPF) deployed for security around polling booths, Banerjee, while addressing a rally at Cooch Behar district in north Bengal, said, “Keep an eye on CRPF personnel. Gherao them because they do not let people cast their votes. While one team will engage them in conversations the other team will cast votes. This is how everyone can exercise their franchise.”
State BJP leader Shishir Bajoria lodged a complaint with the chief electoral officer (CEO) in Kolkata and demanded that Banerjee be stopped from campaigning and her party derecognized. The statement against security forces was “seditious and anti-nation,” said the letter written by the BJP leader.
An official at the CEO’s office said the district magistrate of Cooch Behar has been asked to submit a report.
The party also alleged that the car of its state president Dilip Ghosh, who was campaigning at Sitalkuchi in Cooch Behar, was stoned by TMC workers after Banerjee made the remarks.
“We told the CEO that by making such statements, Banerjee may trigger untoward incidents,” said Bajoria. The BJP’s letter said the vehicle of the party’s Sitai constituency (also in Cooch Behar) candidate Dipak Kumar Roy was vandalised by TMC workers who took “a cue from her (Banerjee’s) statements.”
Talking to the media in Cooch Behar, Ghosh said, “People who were returning from Mamata Banerjee’s rally first shouted provoking remarks and attacked us with sticks, bombs and brickbats. They were carrying TMC flags. We somehow managed to speed away. The windows of my car were damaged. Several other vehicles were vanalised too.” Ghosh also tweeted a photo of an injury on his left arm. He alleged policemen deployed at the spot retreated.
While the TMC’s Cooch Behar district president Partha Pratim Roy dismissed the allegation, the party’s state spokesperson Kunal Ghosh said, “There is terrible infighting in the BJP in that region. It is quite possible that the alleged vandalism was fallout of that. TMC flags can be found everywhere. Anybody can pick them up. The TMC is not involved in this.”
Mamata Banerjee also alleged that at Raidighi in South 24 Parganas, where polls were held in the third phase, the BJP distributed a coupon among local people promising ₹1000 for a vote for the party. The TMC also shared on social media an image of the alleged coupon which has a photograph of the Prime Minister.
"Do not take money from the BJP for casting votes. It is a sin," Banerjee said at a rally in north Bengal.
"This is absolutely baseless. Our party never distributes such coupons. The EC will find out the truth if it conducts a probe," said Bengal BJP's chief spokesperson Samik Bhattacharya.
On Wednesday, Amit Shah led several back to back rallies in Hooghly, Howrah and Kolkata for more than a dozen candidates, including Union minister Babul Supriyo, who is contesting from Tollygunge in south Kolkata and former TMC minister Rajib Banerjee, who is in the race at Domjur in Howrah from where he was elected twice.
In Howrah district, Shah ate lunch at the residence of Sishir Sana, a rickshaw driver. He flew from one district to the next in a chopper.
During the roadshows, Shah made short speeches from the vehicles that carried him and the BJP candidates. Shah said his party will win anything between 63 and 68 of the 91 assembly seats, where polls were held in the first three phases. Polls at 44 seats in five north and south Bengal districts will be held on April 10.
“Do you want a government that thrives on kickbacks and serves only the nephew?” Shah told the crowd at Sankrail in Howrah without naming Abhishek Banerjee, the chief minister’s nephew, who, too, held roadshows in the district.
Adityanath, who is on a two-day tour of Bengal, addressed rallies in the Darjeeling hill region where polls will be held in the fifth phase on April 17. The last phase of polling will be held on April 29. Results will be announced on May 2. The BJP has sworn to win more than 200 of the state’s 294 seats.