News18 Daybreak | Mamata, Modi Engage in War of Words over Bengal and Other Stories You Need to Watch out For

May 17, 2019, 03:12 AM

In Bengal, Mamata Banerjee & PM Modi engage in war of words as bitter poll campaign ends

Kolkata police have set up a five-member Special Investigation Team to probe into the vandalism of a bust of social reformer Ishwarchandra Vidyasagar.

The team was constituted even as PM Narendra Modi and Mamata Banerjee continued to trade charges over the incidence of violence and vandalism in Kolkata’s Vidyasagar College during the rally of BJP chief Amit Shah on Tuesday.

The Bengal faceoff: The PM, in his last poll rally in the state in the ongoing elections, trained his guns against the Mamata Banerjee-led government claiming TMC’s hand in the desecration of the statue.

"They (the TMC) vandalized Ishwar Chandra Vidyasagar's statue. We are committed to Vidyasagar's vision and will install his grand statue at the same spot,” he said just hours before the poll panel ban on campaigning came into effect.

Mamata Banerjee also hit back at Modi saying the Bengal does not need money from the BJP to rebuild the Vidyasagar statue, which she said was destroyed by the saffron party. The TMC supremo even led a protest march against the BJP.

Allies-in-arms: Several opposition party leaders rallied behind Mamata Banerjee and slammed the EC’s decision to cut short the duration of poll campaign in the state. Bahujan Samaj Party (BSP) supremo Mayawati also held the BJP responsible for the violence saying that Bengal will give a fitting response to the BJP.

Meanwhile the EC issued a clarification after it came under attack over the time of the ban.

Senior West Bengal cadre IPS officer Rajiv Kumar reported to the Ministry of Home Affairs (MHA) on Thursday as directed by the Election Commission a day ago.

After violence was reported in Kolkata during BJP president Amit Shah’s rally, the EC relieved Mr. Kumar, Additional Director General of Police (CID) from his post with immediate effect and directed him to report to the MHA at 10 a.m. on Thursday.

The EC also called halt to the election campaigning in West Bengal a day earlier, from 10 p.m. on Thursday. Nine parliamentary constituencies will vote in the last phase of elections on May 19.

A senior government officer said Mr. Kumar reported to the MHA on schedule.

“Kumar complied with the EC order. Currently he is on attachment with the MHA,” the Ministry spokesperson said.

In February, the MHA asked the State government to initiate disciplinary proceedings against Mr. Kumar for participating in a sit-in with West Bengal Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee. The Chief Minister came out in defence of the officer and sat on a protest after a CBI team turned up at the residence of Mr. Kumar to question him in the Saradha scam.

BJP’s Bhopal candidate Pragya Thakur has kicked up another storm after she termed Mahatma Gandhi’s assassin, Nathuram Godse, a patriot. She was finally compelled into apologising after several from even the BJP camp issued statements in condemnation. “The party’s line is my line,” she said.

Leaders of the opposition parties denounced Thakur's comments saying that she had implicatively called Mahatma Gandhi an anti-national. Thakur’s main contender, Digvijaya Singh, has demanded a further apology from Narendra Modi, Amit Shah and the BJP

This is not the first time that Thakur had made controversial statements. She invited the ire of the Election Commission for her remark on the Babri Masjid demolition as well as faced criticism for claiming that 26/11 hero Hemant Karkare died because of her “curse”.

The efforts to glorify Godse, too, have been made in the past. The Hindu Mahasabha had installed a bust of Mahatma Gandhi’s assassin at its Gwalior-based office but police later seized the bust and also lodged a case against the local office-bearers of the right-wing outfit.