The vandalisation of a bust of 19th-century social reformer Ishwar Chandra Vidyasagar in Kolkata and subsequent clashes triggered a fierce blame game between the BJP and the Trinamool Congress on Wednesday, days ahead of the last phase of Lok Sabha polls.
BJP chief Amit Shah, at a press conference in New Delhi, alleged that Mamata Banerjee's TMC was involved in vandalising Vidyasagar's bust and unleashing violence during his roadshow in Kolkata on Tuesday as part of a "conspiracy" to blame the BJP.
On its part, the TMC released videos to claim that "BJP goons" damaged the statue and "hurt Bengali pride". The Mamata Banerjee-led party alleged the videos not only establish what the BJP did, but proved that Shah is a "liar" and a "dhokebaaz" (betrayer).
The Congress and the CPI(M) too targeted the BJP over the damage to the bust at Vidyasagar College, which was on the route of Shah's rally. A Trinamool Parliamentary team comprising Derek O'Brien, Sukhendu Sekhar Ray, Manish Gupta, Nadimul Haque met the Election Commission over the issue and submitted what they called "proof" against the BJP.
Condemning the violence, the Congress accused Narendra Modi-Shah duo of promoting "mobocracy" in the country and damaging the cultural identity of the states.
In his press conference, Shah accused the Election Commission of adopting "double standards" and remaining a "mute spectator" to rigging and poll code violations in West Bengal.
Showing pictures of Tuesday's violence to blame the TMC, he said, "If she (Banerjee) has nothing to hide, I will ask Mamataji to seek a probe by a neutral agency, by an SIT (special investigation team) constituted by the Kolkata High Court or the Supreme Court."
The "countdown" of Banerjee's days in power will begin on May 23, when general election results will be declared, Shah warned, adding it would have been difficult for him to survive the attack on his convoy but for the security of CRPF.
To discuss the situation in West Bengal, CNBC-TV18 spoke with Derek O'Brien, Rajya Sabha MP; Pawan Khera, spokesperson of Congress; Syed Zafar Islam, spokesperson of BJP; Subir Bhowmik, senior journalist & political analyst and Jyoti Kamal, senior editor of CNN-News18.
(With inputs from PTI)