West Bengal Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee and other top Trinamool Congress leaders on Tuesday changed their profile pictures on Twitter to display Ishwar Chandra Vidyasagar’s image, soon after a statue of the Bengali philosopher and writer was allegedly vandalised by BJP workers following clashes with TMC supporters in Kolkata.
Profile pictures of Ms Banerjee, Rajya Sabha MP Derek O’Brien and official Twitter handle of the TMC were changed following the violence during BJP president Amit Shah’s roadshow. They also hanged their display pictures on their respective Facebook pages.
O’Brien, also TMC spokesperson, took to Twitter and alleged that “violent mob of outsiders” were behind the attack.
Sharing videos of violence, he said, “Irrefutable evidence that BJP goons, part of Shah’s roadshow, went on rampage and even desecrated Vidyasagar’s bust showing no respect or love for Bengal’s culture.”
“I do not have words to condemn the incident. I am myself ashamed… that, as people of Bengal, we cannot respect Ishwarchandra Vidyasagar because of these BJP goons. These leaders will be leaders of the nation? Those who cannot respect icons?” Banerjee said in a statement shared by O’Brien.
The TMC has also sought a meeting with the Election Commission over the destruction of the statue.
Supporters of the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) and the Trinamool Congress (BJP) fought pitched battles on the streets of Kolkata during a massive road show by Amit Shah, who escaped unhurt but was forced to cut short the jamboree and had to be escorted to safety by the police.
Parts of the city plunged into a welter of violence as his convoy was attacked with stones by alleged TMC supporters from inside the hostel of Vidyasagar Colleg.
Furious BJP supporters retaliated and were seen exchanging blows with their TMC rivals outside the college entrance.
Several motorcycles parked outside were vandalised and set ablaze. Shards of broken glass littered the lobby of the college where a bust of Ishwar Chandra Vidyasagar, a noted philosopher and a key figure of Bengal Renaissance, was smashed to pieces.
“Trinamool parliamentary team comprising Derek O’Brien, Sukhendu Sekhar Ray, Manish Gupta, Nadimul Haque seeks meeting with EC in aftermath of attack on Bengal’s heritage after Shah roadshow in Kolkata. BJP outsider ruffians resort to arson & break Vidyasagar’s bust,” the TMC said in a tweet.
The CPI(M) also condemned the desecration of Vidyasagar’s statue and alleged that “attacking knowledge” was central to the BJP’s “poisonous project”.
“BJP-RSS think nothing of when they vandalise the historic Vidyasagar College, break Vidyasagar statue. This is their advocacy of India’s civilisational heritage? Attacking knowledge is central to getting their poisonous project going,” tweeted CPI(M) general secretary Sitaram Yechury.
“Bengal will reject the destruction they offer,” he said.
Meanwhile, the BJP urged the Election Commission to bar Mamata Banerjee from campaigning in the state and alleged that “constitutional machinery” has collapsed there.
A BJP delegation, including Union ministers Nirmala Sitharaman and Mukhtar Abbas Naqvi, rushed to the EC, seeking its immediate intervention to ensure free and fair polls in the state.