Political rivals clash, scuffle in Bengal on note ban anniversary
Kolkata: The political temperatures soared in West Bengal on Wednesday, as rival political parties clashed and scuffled on the streets as they brought out rallies, marches, held meetings and street corners in support or against the demonetisation exercise carried out exactly a year back by the Narendra Modi-led Central government.
In Kolkata, there were clashes between the state's ruling Trinamool Congress and the BJP in south Kolkata's Rashbehari Crossing and Central Avenue in central Kolkata.
The Congress workers came to blows with the BJP activists in Asansol of Paschin Bardhaman district.
At Rashbehari, BJP leaders started a road blockade alleging that Trinamool supporters beat up their cadres, ransacked the stage and broke chairs.
Trinamool leader and Minister of State for Health Chandrima Bhattacharya alleged that the BJP workers provoked her party activists by raising insulting slogans against Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee. "But we never manhandled them. There were only verbal clashes..."
But state Panchayat Minister Subrata Mukherjee was more forthright. "The BJP started abusing and hitting our worker, who retaliated. If they use their hands on us, they should not expect to get 'rosogollas'."
The BJP leaders later lodged a complaint at the Tollygunge police station.
The BJP, which celebrated Wednesday as "ullas divas" and anti black money day", brought out a rally near the Indian Airlines office on Central Avenue. Alleging that the rally was attacked by Trinamool-backed miscreants, the BJP cadres blocked Central Avenue and laid a siege outside Bowbazar police station.
As the BJP workers clashed with police, the Rapid Action Force personnel were deployed in the area.
The Congress and BJP workers fought a pitched battle at Asansol City Bus Stand. Local BJP leaders alleged that when Union Minister Babul Supriyo was addressing the workers, Congress supporters came before the stage and started a demonstration. BJP cadres physically confronted the Congressmen, sparking violence which spread to some nearby areas as well.
Chief Minister Banerjee later slammed the BJP for "indulging in violence".
"Parties bereft of any issues resort to violence. But parties like Trinamool, who back people's issues, come out with rallies. For the BJP, it is very difficult to gather one lakh peple. They only know hooliganism," Banerjee told media persons at the state secretariat Nabanna.
Responding to the Trinamool chief, Supriyo challenged Banerjee to back her claim that his BJP indulged in hooliganism, adding that on the contrary, Banerjee was feeling disturbed because of his party's rising vote share.
Trinamool brought out a series of protest marches in the city and the districts with all ministers and important leaders participating in the programmes as part of observance of "Kala Divas" (black day).
In Kolkata, the marches were led by senior Trinamool leaders like Abhishek Banerjee, Subrata Bakshi, and several ministers including Sovandeb Chattopadhyay, Firhad Hakim and Sovan Chatterjee.
The Trinamool workers sported kurtas on which were monogrammed slogans like "Modi hatao, desh bachao", and "BJP hatao, desh bachao".
The Left parties took out a protest march from central Kolkata's Moulali Ram Lila Park to the Reseve Bank of India office here.
Leaders of Communist Party of India-Marxist, Communist Party of India, All India Forward Bloc, Revolutionary Socialist Party, Communist Party of India-Marxist Leninist (Liberation) and Socialist Unity Centre of India (Communist) were among the participants.
The marchers raised slogans "against the sufferings of the common man across the country and the crisis in the Indian economy as a result of the note ban.
The Congress held as meeting close to the RBI office, where its state chief Adhir Ranjan Chowdhury sharply criticised the Modi government for its "misconceived economic policies" like demonetisation which have aderailed' the Indian economy.
The BJP Mahila Morcha organised a amanav bandhan' programme in the city to show its solidarity with the demonetisation exercise.