Youth Congress activists set fire to effigies of Prime Minister Narendra Modi outside the BJP state office and scuffled with police today during a counter rally they had organised against the BJP demonstration outside their party headquarters in Kolkata on the Rafale issue. The Youth Congress workers said that the BJP’s agitation was undemocratic and launched a counter rally in central Kolkata outside the state BJP headquarters.

Police barricaded the area outside the BJP office to avoid any untoward incident. Efforts to pacify the Congress protesters failed as they refused to go away and burnt effigies of Prime Minister Narendra Modi. Later on, when they tried to move towards the BJP office, a scuffle between police and the Congress activists ensued, during which rotten eggs and ink were thrown at the men in uniform. The Youth Congress workers, including their state chief Shadab Khan, also staged a road blockade at the busy Central crossing, resulting in traffic snarls.

Later police removed the blockade and arrested several Congress workers. Earlier in the day, BJP youth activists held a protest rally outside the state Congress headquarters here demanding an “apology” from the party and its leader Rahul Gandhi for spreading “lies” on the Rafale issue that were rejected by the Supreme Court.

The Bharatiya Janata Yuva Morcha activists marched from Moulali to Bidhan Bhawan, the state Congress headquarters in central Kolkata, during the course of which they tore posters and burnt effigies of Rahul Gandhi for his “lies and propaganda” on the Rafale deal in a bid to defame Prime Minister Narendra Modi during the campaign for the Lok Sabha polls, a BJYM leader said. The BJYM activists also demanded an apology from Gandhi, he said. The rally was part of the saffron party’s countrywide stir to seek Rahul Gandhi’s apology on the Rafale issue.

During the 2019 Lok Sabha election campaign, the Congress had time and again raised the issue of Rafale deal. The Supreme Court had on Thursday given a clean chit to the Modi government on the purchase of 36 Rafale fighter jets from French company Dassault Aviation, rejecting the plea for registration of an FIR by the CBI for alleged commission of cognisable offence in the deal.