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TMC-BJP tiff intensifies as MHA ‘advises’ to maintain law, order

Less than 24 hours after it asked for a report from the state, the home ministry said in its advisory that “unabated violence over the past weeks” appears to be a failure on the part of the law enforcement machinery.

india Updated: Jun 09, 2019 21:34 IST
HT Correspondent
HT Correspondent
Hindustan Times, New Delhi/Kolkata
TMC,BJP,MHA
A senior government official did not want to comment on the home ministry directive, saying the state secretariat was closed on Sunday. (HT Photo)

The Union home ministry on Sunday “strongly advised” the West Bengal government to maintain law and order and peace, issuing a directive a day after clashes killed at least three people and set off a fresh war of words between the ruling Trinamool Congress and the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) in the state that is reeling due to political violence.

Less than 24 hours after it asked for a report from the state, the home ministry said in its advisory that “unabated violence over the past weeks” appears to be a failure on the part of the law enforcement machinery.

“It is strongly advised to ensure that all necessary measures are taken to maintain law and order, peace and public tranquility. It is also requested to take strict action against officials found delinquent in discharge of their duty,” it said.

A senior government official did not want to comment on the home ministry directive, saying the state secretariat was closed on Sunday.

A Trinamool worker and two local BJP leaders were killed in the Basirhat violence. The BJP said three more of its workers were murdered and five others had gone missing.

In a fresh face-off with the central government, state food and supplies minister Jyoti Priya Mallick, earlier in the day, took strong exception to the home ministry’s Saturday move asking for a report from West Bengal on the recent violence.

“Law and order is a state subject according to the Constitution and the Centre cannot interfere in this matter. The Union home minister should remember that he is home minister of the country, and not of the BJP,” Malllick, the Trinamool’s North 24-Parganas district president, said.

Trinamool secretary general and education minister Partha Chatterjee said, “They [the BJP] might have been able to win some seats because of Left voters, but the Trinamool still has a bigger vote share. They have become desperate and hence resorting to violence.”

The BJP and the Trinamool have been engaged in pitched political battle in the state where the saffron party won 18 of the 42 seats in the recently held Lok Sabha elections — just four less than what chief minister Mamata Banerjee’s party managed to bag. PM Modi and BJP chief Shah, who is now the home minister, campaigned aggressively in West Bengal even as Banerjee led the charge of her party in attacking the BJP.

Political killings have been reported from different parts of the state in the election season and even after the conclusion of the polls, and both parties have blamed each other for the violence.

West Bengal governor Keshari Nath Tripath expressed concerns over the killings in North 24-Parganas and the other incidents of violence.

“Governor Tripathi is very sad at the unfortunate loss of lives and properties of the citizens. He extends his heartfelt sympathy for the families and near and dear ones of the deceased. He appeals to all concerned to see to it that no violent incidents take place and peace and harmony prevail in the state,” said a statement issued by the press secretary to the governor.

On Sunday morning, Tripathi left for Delhi where he will meet Prime Minister Narendra Modi. The meeting was planned some time back, said a Raj Bhawan official. The BJP organised agitations and roadblocks in Kolkata and towns across Bengal in protest against the killings at Dhanipara village. The party said it was planning a big agitation on June 12 in front the police headquarters in Kolkata.

In continuing violence, Sheikh Mafizul, a Trinamool Congress worker, was clubbed to death on Saturday night in Hooghly district’s Arambagh. Local BJP leaders alleged that it was the fallout of infighting in the ruling party. The police arrested Partha Hazra, a local TMC leader, for the murder. Two Trinamool offices in Jhargram and Howrah were ransacked on the same day.

First Published: Jun 09, 2019 21:34 IST