Two statues of Vladimir Lenin were razed within 24 hours of each other in Tripura after the BJP's historic win, causing the CPM to lash out at the saffron party and seek Prime Minister Narendra Modi's intervention.
— ANI (@ANI) March 6, 2018
The first incident occurred in Sabroom Motor Stand on Sunday where a vehicle appeared to have been rammed into the pedestal where the idol stood. The second incident occurred Monday in Belonia town in south Tripura when a statue of Lenin was bulldozed with a JBM machine allegedly by BJP workers chanting Bharat mata ki jai.
Prohibitory orders were clamped on several areas of West Tripura district including Srinagar, Lefunga, Mandai, Amtali, Radhapur, Arundhatinagar, Jirania, Mohanpur following post-poll violence, district magistrate Milind Ramteke said. Tripura chief minister-designate Biplab Deb urged the people to maintain peace and said anybody indulging in violence would be punished.
The CPM charged the BJP with "unleashing a reign of terror" on Left workers in Tripura and sought the immediate intervention of Modi in bringing the violence to an end before the situation "worsened".
In a memorandum to the prime minister, the party claimed the BJP had begun attacking Left supporters in the northeastern state immediately after the results of the Assembly polls were declared.
"We request your immediate intervention to stop these attacks and violence and to maintain peace and normalcy in the state" before the situation "worsened", the party said in the memorandum addressed to the prime minister.
The party also gave a list of the alleged violent incidents and said 514 people were injured and 196 houses set on fire. "After the election results were out, goons of the BJP have unleashed a reign of terror and all-round attacks on members and supporters of the CPM, their houses, party offices and mass organisation offices throughout the state," said the memorandum, which was submitted to Modi in Parliament.
Later talking to reporters, CPM leader Mohammed Salim also accused the Governor Tathagata Roy of "working like a Sangh Parivar supporter". "He holds a constitutional post and is offering a stamp of approval to the unconstitutional, undemocratic, illegal vandalism. We hope the Centre would take note of this," Salim said.
Describing the post-poll situation in Tripura as "highly condemnable", CPI leader D Raja said the bulldozing of a Lenin statue and attacking Left cadres and their offices were "nothing but fascist activities of the BJP and the Sangh Parivar". Not only the Left, but all secular and democratic parties should condemn "this absolute vandalism", he said. Raja said the BJP leadership should take the "responsibility for the collapse of law and order and such undemocratic and unconstitutional activities of its cadres in Tripura".
CPM state secretary Bijan Dhar claimed that 514 party activists were assaulted, 1,539 houses of the party activists were attacked and 196 houses set on fire since the announcement of results. He also claimed that 134 CPM offices were attacked and looted, 64 party offices were set on fire and at least 90 offices of different mass organisations had been occupied allegedly by BJP-IPFT supporters.
The party top brass including Yechury and Politburo members Prakash Karat, Brinda Karat and Surjya Kanta Mishra led a rally in Kolkata, which ended in front of a statue of Lenin at Dharmatalla in the heart of the city. West Bengal chief minister Mamata Banerjee too used the opportunity to target the BJP as she offered moral support to her one-time political rival CPM.
"If you feel just because you have come to power, you will demolish the statue of Marx, Lenin, Gandhiji, Netaji, Swami Vivekananda, we won't accept that. I have fought with the CPM. We also came to power after 34 years. Please remember, our slogan was we want change, not revenge," Mamata said.
"So despite the CPM carrying out so much atrocities on us, we did not pay them back in the same coin. This is not our nature. Whatever is happening there (Tripura) is not democracy," she added. Meanwhile, the BJP distanced itself from the controversy and refuted claims that the vandals were its cadres. But several ministers and senior leaders of the party were seen defending the act of vandalism as the outburst of common man's suppressed anger against the 'oppressive' Left rule.
"So many people were oppressed by the Left. Some of them must have this feeling of revenge," Union minister Giriraj Singh said. Union minister SS Ahluwalia, too, said he did not approve of violence but it occurred whenever elections were held in communist-ruled states, irrespective of the Left's victory or defeat. BJP leader Ram Madhav went a step ahead and put out a tweet which seemed to laud the act of vandalism. He later deleted it.
In a similar but related development, another BJP leader from Tamil Nadu, H Raja posted on Facebook his support for vandalising a 'terrorist's' idol. He even added that "casteist" Periyar — the iconic Dravidian leader, widely respected across Tamil Nadu — would be next.
Meanwhile, the Union home ministry dialed the governor and district magistrate and asked them to take all possible steps to maintain law and order. Home Minister Rajnath Singh also called up Roy and asked him to ensure peace and check violence till a new government is installed in the state.
Roy too faced controversy over his tweet:
What one democratically elected government can do another democratically elected government can undo. And vice versa https://t.co/Og8S1wjrJs
— Tathagata Roy (@tathagata2) March 5, 2018
The Left argued that his tweet was "shameful" and that a constitutional office holder was celebrating the vandalism, but Roy said his job was to hold fort till the next government is installed. "The Left can make what it wants of my comments," Roy added.
Tripura BJP vice-president Subal Bhowmick alleged on Monday that CPM activists assaulted 49 BJP supporters, 17 of whom had to be hospitalised. The Left, which ruled Tripura for 25 years, was ousted by the BJP in state Assembly elections, the results of which were declared on Saturday. Tripura BJP president Biplab Deb will be sworn in as the chief minister on 9 March and party colleague Jishnu Kumar Debbarma will be his deputy.
With inputs from agencies
Updated Date: Mar 06, 2018 22:28:26 IST