West Bengal Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee’s decision to stay away from Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s swearing-in on Thursday evoked sharp reaction from state BJP leaders, with Mukul Roy, who left TMC for the BJP, pointing out that she had taken oath as CM in 2011 with families of Nandigram and Singur “martyrs” in attendance.
On Wednesday, Banerjee said in a statement: “…Media reports (state) that the BJP are claiming 54 people have been murdered in political violence in Bengal. This is completely untrue. There have been no political murders in Bengal…the ceremony is an august occasion to celebrate democracy, not one that should be devalued by a party which uses it as opportunity to score political points.”
Family members of BJP workers who the party claims were killed in political violence in Bengal left for New Delhi to attend the oath ceremony. The TMC denies the allegation and instead accuses the BJP of targetting its workers.
Mukul Roy said: “What is all this angst against politicisation of deaths? Didn’t she take oath, with families of those who died in Singur and Nandigram agitations in audience? Didn’t we invite Monoranjan Malik, father of Tapasi Malik, for the event and assign people to take care of (their) stay and other logistics?”
The oath-taking ceremony is an august occasion to celebrate democracy, not one that should be devalued by any political party pic.twitter.com/Mznq0xN11Q
— Mamata Banerjee (@MamataOfficial) May 29, 2019
The agitation against a Tata Motors factory in Singur, and against a special economic zone in Nandigram, around 2005-06 saw large-scale violence and several deaths. Banerjee, then an opposition leader in the state, turned the incidents into her calling cards and eventually ended the 34-year Left Front regime in Bengal in 2011.
Tapasi Malik, in her late-teens, was at the forefront of protests in Singur. She was raped and murdered.
BJP state president Dilip Ghosh, a newly elected MP from the state, said: “No one in Bengal will forget the kind of politics she (Banerjee) did with death and rape. The way she exploited the death of Tapasi Malik, what she did after the death of Rizwanur Rahman…”
Rizwanur, a graphics designer, allegedly committed suicide in 2007 after a brief marriage with the daughter of an industrialist. The family was reportedly unhappy about the inter-religious marriage and doubts were raised about the suicide theory.