With the supremo of the Trinamool Congress and the country’s only lady chief minister Mamata Banerjee being allegedly attacked, days ahead of the crucial assembly polls, the state’s ruling party is planning to go all out to encash on the incident even as a Bharatiya Janata Party leader described her as “PhD in drama.”
Banerjee on Thursday declared that she will be starting her campaign trail on a wheelchair and will attend the party meetings.
“I hope to return to the field in the next two to three days. I will have pain but I will manage. I will not drop a single meeting. Maybe I would have to take the help of a wheelchair. I need your support,” she said in the video message from the hospital.
Her party, the TMC has decided to organise silent protest across the state from tomorrow and the party workers would wear black bands to condemn the incident, party leaders said.
“We are going to organize silent rallies in every block and wards across the state on Friday between 3 pm and 5 pm. People carrying black flags, wearing black badges and covering their mouth with black cloth will participate in the rally,” said Parth Chatterjee, state minister.
TMC workers since Wednesday night have already been staging protests and blocked roads with burning tyres in various corners. Skirmishes were also reported between TMC and BJP workers in some places though no one was seriously injured, the police said.
Pujas were performed at various temples across the states and prayers were held at mosques seeking her speedy recovery as the TMC tried to make a political issue accusing the BJP over the incident.
“The only woman chief minister in the country was injured and attacked. The Prime Minister and the Union home minister however didn’t show the courtesy to call up. We condemn this,” said Saugata Roy, TMC MP.
The BJP on the other hand, mounted an attack on Banerjee while maintaining that a thorough probe was required in the incident. It also demanded that the pictures of the incident be made public and it be probed by the Central Bureau of Investigation (CBI).
“Even our workers sustained injuries. They underwent treatment and then returned to give a befitting reply. They didn’t stage any drama. But she doesn’t have the strength to give a befitting reply anymore and hence only staging a drama. She has done a PhD in drama,” Dilip Ghosh, state BJP president, told reporters while adding, “This is her old habit.”
However, later in the day, the BJP leaders said that they would not indulge in any politics over her injuries. Saying that the fight with the TMC is a political one and on ideological and development issues, BJP spokesman Samik Bhattacharya wished her a speedy recovery and said the party hoped for her return to the electoral arena as soon as possible.
“We will not do any kind of politics over the chief minister’s injuries. We pray for her early recovery and return to the political stage,” he told reporters at a press conference at the BJP headquarters.
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The TMC’s allegations of an attack against the chief minister got a shot in the arm with many of her allies, including Arvind Kejriwal, Akhilesh Yadav and Tejashwi Yadav, throwing their weight behind her.
“I strongly condemn the attack on Mamta Didi. Those responsible should be immediately arrested and punished. I pray for her speedy recovery,” Kejriwal tweeted on Wednesday night.
“Shocked by the reprehensible attack on @MamataOfficial at an election rally today. Shows the hatred & division that has possessed this country. My best wishes for her campaign & hope she recovers soon,” tweeted Mehbooba Mufti, former CM of Jammu and Kashmir on Thursday.
Ahead of 2014 Lok Sabha polls, Banerjee had alleged that there was an attempt to kill her when a fire broke out in her hotel room because of a short circuit. In December 2016, she had alleged that there was conspiracy to kill her when a flight in which she was travelling had to hover for some time before landing.
Also Read: Mamata injury draws new Bengal battle line
The TMC has already started to target the state’s women voters who comprise more than 49% of the electorate. The party has also launched a slogan which translates into ‘Bengal wants its own daughter’. West Bengal has around 3.73 crore male voters, while there are around 3.59 crore female voters in the state. In the 2019 Lok Sabha polls, the participation rate of women voters in Bengal was as high as 81.7%.
On the politics over the incident, Biswanath Chakraborty, professor of political science at Rabindra Bharati University, said all will depend on whether there is a strong anti-incumbency against Mamata Banerjee or not.
“If the anti-incumbency factor is strong against Mamata and people have decided that BJP can be an alternative force, then it won’t matter whether she fights the election on a wheel chair. But if Mamata is still acceptable and people still want her as the chief minister then the TMC could encash this,” he said.