Hours after she filed nomination papers for the Assembly elections in Nandigram Wednesday, Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee said that she was targeted by a group of “four or five people, who pushed her” outside a temple where she had stopped to offer prayers, causing injuries to her right leg and head.
Shortly after the incident, Banerjee cut short her visit to Nandigram and returned to Kolkata, where she was admitted to the SSKM Hospital. The Chief Minister and her Trinamool Congress party alleged a conspiracy while the BJP alleged that this was “tactics to gain sympathy.”
Sources said the Election Commission has sought a report from West Bengal Chief Secretary Allapan Bandyopadhyay, its general observer Ajay Naik and special police observer Vivek Dubey on the incident by 5pm Friday.
The incident took place around 6.15 pm when Banerjee was about to leave Birulia Bazar area near Reyapara after offering prayers at a local temple. She alleged that after coming out of the temple, as she was about to get into her car, four or five people suddenly pushed her. Her right leg got trapped in the car door and she fell down, she said.
“This is a conspiracy. Some people intentionally pushed me. No administration was there to protect me. The police superintendent was also not there. They basically came here to hurt me. I have decided to return to Kolkata right now,” Banerjee said.
Police said Banerjee fell down due to an altercation in the crowd that had gathered around her.
Soon after the incident, the Chief Minister complained of chest pain, following which she was rushed to SSKM Hospital by road through a green corridor. By the time she reached the hospital at 9.42 pm, a large number of party leaders and workers had gathered there, shouting anti-BJP slogans.
— ANI (@ANI) March 10, 2021
Governor Jagdeep Dhankhar, who arrived at the hospital to check on her health, had to face “go back” slogans.
State minister and senior Trinamool leader Subrata Mukherjee said: “Many people don’t want her to campaign for the elections. They want her to be removed from their path. That is why she has been attacked by goons. People will give a befitting reply.”
The BJP, however, said Banerjee was trying to turn a “simple accident” into a “pre-planned conspiracy”, and demanded a probe. “It can happen that she met with an accident but to claim that she was deliberately pushed is not acceptable. She has a lot of security personnel guarding her round the clock,” said BJP national general secretary Kailash Vijayvargiya. “Such tactics to gain sympathy are unacceptable.”
BJP Rajya Sabha MP Swapan Dasgupta tweeted: “We pray for @MamataOfficial speedy recovery from her foot injury. If she requires additional Central security, the Home Ministry will certainly provide it.”
CPM politburo member Md. Selim demanded an impartial investigation. “This is not the first time. In the past, many times, she has made up this type of story. People will not believe her,” he said.
State Congress president and party leader in Lok Sabha Adhir Ranjan Chowdhury said: “This is nothing but siyasi pakhand (political hypocrisy)… When she sensed that she is facing difficulties in Nandigram, she thought of such hypocrisy and drama.”
However, senior party leader Anand Sharma said he was concerned over the attack and wished the Chief Minister “a speedy recovery”. Congress leaders Manish Tewari and Milind Deora too condemned the attack. While Tewari said “violence has no place in politics”, Deora said it is “very unfortunate to see civility & safety being rapidly eroded, especially during election campaigns”.
Many other Opposition leaders, too, condemned the attack. Delhi Chief Minister Arvind Kejriwal tweeted that “those responsible” should be “immediately arrested and punished”. RJD leader Tejashwi Yadav called the attack “cowardly and despicable”.
SP chief Akhilesh Yadav said the attack was a matter of concern and demanded a probe by a high-level committee to probe the incident. BSP leader Kunwar Danish Ali said the incident has not injured just Banerjee but the “very spirit of a great democracy”. —(Inputs from ENS, Delhi).
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