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I was a CPI(M) supporter, says man at centre of Lenin statue row

On March 5, two days after the BJP swept to power in the state, he was among the people spotted in a video of communist icon Vladimir Lenin’s statue being brought down in Belonia, around 90 km from state capital Agartala.

india Updated: Mar 10, 2018 23:05 IST
Priyanka Deb Barman
Priyanka Deb Barman
Hindustan Times, Belonia
Lenin Statue,Tripura,CPI(M)
Remains of the five-feet tall statue of Lenin vandalised in Tripura.(HT File Photo)

Belonia resident Raju Nath says he holds his Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) credentials dear, but the party’s Tripura unit does not want to talk much about him or what he is allegedly involved in.

On March 5, two days after the BJP swept to power in the state, he was among the people spotted in a video of communist icon Vladimir Lenin’s statue being brought down in Belonia, around 90 km from state capital Agartala.

“The bulldozer razed the statue accidentally. I was just trying to cool down the situation and thus was spotted in the video,” Nath said on Saturday. According to Nath, he is a secretary of the BJP’s south Tripura unit.

Tripura’s BJP leaders could not immediately confirm his rank in the party and sought time.

State BJP spokesperson Mrinal Kanti Deb condemned Lenin’s statue being brought down. “BJP was not involved in the incident. But if any person was involved with the people (in bringing down the statue) that day, the party can’t take the blame,” he said.

Nath said he was a CPI(M) supporter for nearly two decades before he joined the BJP in 2008. He blamed the CPI(M) for “dragging his name into the
controversy ”.

Local CPI(M) leader Tapas Datta dismissed Nath’s allegation. “The statue being brought down was the BJP’s handiwork.”

Police arrested the bulldozer driver of hours after the statue was pulled down. He was released on bail. Police have served notices on Nath and four others to cooperate with investigations.

“If they are found to be criminal conspirators, then additional charges will be added,” said south Tripura superintendent of police Manchak Ipper.

First Published: Mar 10, 2018 23:05 IST