Hours after Prime Minister Narendra Modi said his government would build a “grand statue” of Ishwar Chand Vidyasagar in Kolkata, Trinamool Congress chief and West Bengal Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee said the state had enough resources, and that it didn’t need the BJP’s money. Addressing a rally in Mandirbazar, Mamata said Monday’s incident should not be viewed in isolation as incidents of vandalism was not a new phenomenon for the BJP. She cited incidents in Tripura, Vellore in Tamil Nadu and Meerut in Uttar Pradesh to prove her point.
A bust of the noted social reformer was vandalised in Vidyasagar College on Monday during violent protests by TMC and BJP workers.
“Modi has promised to rebuild the Vidyasagar statue in Kolkata. Why should we take their (BJP’s) money, Bengal has enough resources,” Mamata was quoted as saying by news agency PTI.
In a Facebook post soon after, Mamata wrote, “TMC believes in conserving the rich cultural and historical heritage of our Bengal. It is totally against the hate philosophy of Modi and Amit Shah.
“Entire Bengal is hurt by the act of vandalising the statue of Pandit Ishwar Chandra Vidyasagar by BJP goons from outside. Vidyasagar is a great reformer, philosopher, educationist of Bengal whose name is remembered with great dignity and honour everywhere. People of Bengal condemns this heinous act of vandalism by BJP goons,” she added.
Mamata was referring to PM Modi’s statement during a rally in Uttar Pradesh Thursday, where he said, “Our government, dedicated to the vision of Ishwar Chandra Vidyasagar, will set up a grand statue of panchdhatu (five metals) at the same spot.” He had accused the TMC of breaking the statue and said those responsible should be punished.
The Indian Express has reported that of the two video clips that emerged after the violence, one showed a group of youths, some wearing saffron shirts and at least one sporting a saffron turban, vandalising the bust of Vidyasagar outside the Vidyasagar College hostel. The second clip showed a separate group inside the campus hurling large stones across the wall at men wearing saffron shirts and turbans, carrying BJP flags.