West Bengal Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee and Prime Minister Narendra Modi attacked each other on Thursday over the smashing of the bust of Ishwar Chandra Vidyasagar in the violence during BJP chief Amit Shah’s roadshow in Kolkata on Tuesday and traded barbs over building a new statue of the 19th century Bengali icon.
Hours before the bitter campaign came to an end on Thursday night, curtailed by a day by the Election Commission, Modi said his Government was committed towards Vidyasagar’s vision and promised to install his grand statue at the same spot in Kolkata.
Rejecting Modi’s offer, Mamata said Bengal does not need BJP’s money and that the State has enough to rebuild the statue. “We do not seek alms from the BJP,” said Mamata.
The Prime Minister and the Trinamool Congress (TMC) supremo also traded charges as to who was responsible for the vandalisation of the bust. While Modi said the bust was vandalised by “TMC goondas”. Mamata claimed it was BJP “hooligans” who had destroyed the heritage of West Bengal.
“We have been witnessing the attitude of Didi for long and now the country is also seeing it. Dedicated to the vision of Ishwar Chand Vidyasagar, our Government will install a panchdhatu (made up of five metals) statue at the very spot and give a reply to TMC goondas,” Modi told a rally in Mau in Uttar Pradesh.
“The statue of Ishwar Chandra Vidyasagar was broken by TMC goondas during the roadshow of BJP president Amit Shah. Those involved in this act should be given exemplary punishment,” the Prime Minister said.
Addressing another rally at Mathurapur in West Bengal, Modi alleged that the West Bengal Police, in connivance with the State Government, was trying to wipe out evidence of the vandalisation.
“Those involved in the act of vandalising the statue should be given exemplary punishment,” Modi said, adding, “Police officers are trying to wipe out the evidence of the incident in order to save the TMC goons.”
Mamata told a rally in Mandirbazar that it is a matter of shame for Bengalis that the bust of Vidyasagar was vandalised. “Bengal does not seek alms from BJP. We have the money for a new bust of Vidyasagar, who was part of Bengal Renaissance. Don’t you (BJP) feel ashamed saying that Bengal has been reduced to a State of being a pauper”.
Hitting back at Modi’s charge that TMC goondas were responsible, the feisty TMC supremo called the Prime Minister a liar, the “like of which was never seen in the country”.
“He (Modi) should squat holding his ears for destroying a heritage of the State,” she said.
“The media has shown how Vidyasagar’s bust was broken. Bengalis’ pride is hurt that they will not spare BJP. They will not give it (BJP) a single vote …. It will be very surprising if Modi gets a single vote from Bengalis,” Mamata claimed.
Friday, 17 May 2019 | PNS | Mau (UP)/ Mandirbazar(WB)
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