Two days after the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) dethroned the Communist Party of India (Marxist) from Tripura, a Vladimir Lenin statue has been toppled in the state's Belonia town, allegedly by BJP workers. The statue's vandalism was part of large-scale violence reported from Tripura, as CPM offices in different parts of the state were defaced.
— ANI (@ANI) March 5, 2018
A report on The Indian Express said the Lenin's statue had stood in Belonia's College Square for the last five years before it was brought down by BJP workers on Monday afternoon, to the cries of "Bharat Mata Ki Jai". The CPM has decried the violence and termed it "Communism phobia".
"Eyewitnesses told me that after the statue fell, its head was dismembered from the body. And then, the BJP workers played football with Lenin's head," Tapas Datta, CPM's Belonia sub-division secretary, was quoted as saying in the report.
BJP national secretary Ram Madhav tweeted out a post saying people are taking down Lenin's statue and used the party's slogan for the Tripura elections, 'Chalo Paltai' with it. However, he later deleted it.
Tripura had been ruled by the CPM for four straight terms before the BJP stunned the Left Front alliance, winning 35 out of the state's 59 seats that went to Assembly polls, while ally Indigenous People's Front of Tripura (IPFT) won eight. Outgoing deputy speaker of state Assembly Pabitra Kar, Power Minister Manik Dey, Tribal Welfare Minister Aghore Debbarma and Forest Minister Naresh Jamatia all suffered defeats from their respective constituencies.
The CPM has accused the BJP of large-scale violence against its cadre, saying there had been 1,500 incidents of attacks on CPM party offices, in which 514 party leaders and supporters were injured. A report on The Telegraph quoted CPM state secretary Bijan Dhar as saying the attacks were not only on the party offices but also on personal properties of the party's leaders. Nearly 196 houses of party supporters were ransacked while 64 party offices were gutted in the 48 hours after Assembly election results were declared, Dhar said.
However, the BJP has denied the party's involvement in these incidents, instead saying it was a result of "discontent of common people". BJP spokesperson Mrinal Kanti Deb said he was not aware of any such incident, but even if they took place, they weren't approved by BJP. "Statues of Lenin and other communist statesmen were demolished after the Soviet Union broke up. Similarly, such an incident would be a result of discontent of common people," Deb told The Telegraph.
After activists expressed dismay at the political targeting of Leftist icons, Tripura governor Tathagata Roy appeared to defend the move, saying all democratically elected governments are within their rights to revoke the decisions of their predecessors.
However, BJP south district secretary Raju Nath seemed to have a different explanation for the statue's destruction, painting it as an "accident". The Indian Express report had quoted him as describing the incidents leading up to the statue's vandalism: "We were carrying out a victory rally this afternoon. When we reached College Square, there was a bulldozer that was trying to make its way through the crowds. In the process, the driver lost control and hit the railing around the statue. When this happened, the supporters surrounded the driver and made him bring down the statue. This was not an unnatural feeling for these people who have been oppressed by the CPM for so long."
Updated Date: Mar 06, 2018 13:49 PM