Kolkata: The West Bengal BJP unit on Sunday came under fire after a group of people holding the party flag allegedly raised the incendiary “desh ke gaddaron ko, goli maro…” (shoot the traitors) slogan on their way to a rally of Union Home Minister Amit Shah.
The men shouted the slogan while they were passing the Maidan Market in Esplanade en route to the rally venue Shahid Minar ground.
There has been a controversy over raising of such slogans in BJP rallies during Delhi polls and demonstrations in favour of the Citizenship (Amendment) Act (CAA) due to allegations that they provoke violence.
The state BJP leadership, however, denied involvement of any party worker in the incident and termed it as the “handiwork of the TMC (Trinamool Congress)”.
The slogan shouting BJP supporters came close to Congress and Left Front members who chanted “Go Back Amit Shah” on the other flank of the Jawaharlal Nehru Road, but a showdown was averted as a large number of police personnel posted nearby intervened and took control of the situation.
When contacted, a senior Kolkata Police officer declined to comment on the incident but said strict action will be taken against anybody trying to disrupt law and order in the city. “No arrest has been made in this connection till evening,” he said.
When asked for a reaction on the incident, state BJP vice-president Subhas Sarkar said no party workers were involved in this sloganeering. “It was a mega rally in Kolkata. We feel that it was the handiwork of the TMC to malign our party,” Sarkar said.
Senior CPI(M) leader Mohammed Salim criticised the role of the Mamata Banerjee administration claiming that police were “inactive” against those raising the slogan.
“They (the BJP) are trying to vitiate the atmosphere of West Bengal. We had heard the ‘goli maro’ slogan in Delhi. Now, thanks to the Mamata Banerjee government and her police, who were mere spectator, we saw them shouting it here,” Salim told reporters.
Leader of the Congress in Lok Sabha Adhir Ranjan Chowdhury condemned the incident. “The BJP is trying to bring in a new culture to Bengal. This is not our culture. Whatever has happened today in Kolkata is deplorable. Mamata Banerjee has brought Shah to the city by allowing the BJP to hold the rally. And the police inaction shows that the state government has helped them,” Chowdhury said over phone.
Senior TMC leader Anubarata Mandal said people of Bengal would give a befitting reply to the “preachers of hate and divisive politics”. The Union home minister was on a day-long visit to Kolkata.