The face-off between West Bengal Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee and the Bharatiya Janata Party further intensified on Wednesday after police used water cannons and tear gas to disperse BJP workers who were marching towards Lal Bazar to protest against the Trinamool Congress government.
The saffron party workers, along with 18 newly elected MPs in the state and BJP state president Dilip Ghosh, were marching towards the Kolkata Police headquarters in Lalbazar from the Wellington area of the city. Bengal’s BJP minder Kailash Vijayvargiya and senior party leader Mukul Roy also joined the march.
Post-poll violence has been reported from various places of West Bengal after the BJP secured 18 of the 42 Lok Sabha seats in the state, just four less than that of the TMC. Two people were killed and four injured in an explosion in Kankinara in North 24 Parganas district on Monday, an area rocked by clashes during the recently concluded Lok Sabha elections.
Roy on Tuesday blamed Banerjee for the clashes in North 24 Parganas’ Sandeshkhali on Saturday that claimed three lives, and demanded an investigation into the violence by anti-terror probe agency NIA. Banerjee had earlier accused the BJP of “spreading false information as part of a game plan to topple her government”.
The clashes began at a hatchery in Sandeshkhali, which was also used as an informal meeting ground for BJP supporters. The Trinamool supporters allegedly barged in on Saturday afternoon when most of the villagers were celebrating ‘Jamai Sasti’ — a Bengali tradition where the son-in-law is treated to a meal at his in-laws’ house.
After the violence, shops remained closed in most parts of Basirhat after a 12-hour bandh called by the BJP on Monday to protest against the killing of two of their supporters. The saffron party also observed a ‘Black Day’ across the state as a sign of protest.