Armed with videos which the party claimed conclusively proves that BJP workers had vandalised the statue of Ishwarchandra Vidyasagar in the eponymous college in Kolkata, the Trinamool Congress (TMC) on Wednesday handed a memorandum to the Election Commission, alleging that “hooligans” had attacked a “peaceful assembly” of Vidyasagar College students.
Accusing BJP president Amit Shah of lying and bringing outsiders into the state, senior TMC leader and Rajya Sabha MP Derek O’Brien said Vidyasagar is integral to the identity of Bengal and Bengalis.
“Their planned armed attack, organised to let loose a reign of terror on the eve of the final phase of Lok Sabha elections in and around Kolkata, knew no bounds. The armed goons even vandalised the bust of Pandit Ishwarchandra Vidyasagar, a father figure of Indian renaissance,” O’Brien maintained.
Calling it his “saddest press conference”, O’Brien said: “Vidyasagar is part of Bengali ethos. The BJP president cannot understand that…. What he did with his hired goons…. Wikipedia will not give a feel of the man — writer, philosopher, social reformer, champion of women’s education…every boy and girl who has grown up in West Bengal has read his books, learnt their alphabet from them.”
O’Brien also said the party is still trying to confirm, but it has been “widely reported in Bengali media that while the desecration of the statue was being done, the slogans were ‘Vidyasagar finish, where is the josh?’”
Besides O’Brien, his Rajya Sabha colleagues Manish Gupta, Sukhendushekhar Roy and Nadimul Haq were also present.
The TMC leaders played videos, one showing people who were purportedly part of Amit Shah’s roadshow scaling the walls and gates of Vidyasagar College, another showing men, including some in saffron T-shirts, smashing the Vidyasagar statue viciously.
The videos, O’Brien claimed, disprove Amit Shah’s contention earlier in the day that it was impossible for BJP workers to have broken the statue since the college gates were locked and they did not have the keys. “He’s a liar. This is how they responded to a democratic protest of college students with black flags and flex banners… he is lying.”
The Trinamool MPs slammed the EC and repeated the party’s charge that central forces are in cahoots with the BJP. In what they called “proof”, the TMC leaders showed photos of a man in combat gear first with some saffron-clad people and then with BJP state chief Dilip Ghosh. Asked for proof of their allegation that outsiders had been roped in to create trouble, Gupta said, “Throughout the elections, goons from Jharkhand and Bihar are staying in hotels…in private houses.”
On Delhi BJP leader Tajinder Bagga’s detention, O’Brien said, “Tajinder Bagga? Who is this guy? Didn’t he slap somebody in Delhi?” The reference was to an incident some time back involving Bagga and Delhi Chief Minister Arvind Kejriwal.