West Bengal Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee slammed the BJP and Home Minister Amit Shah over the vandalism of the Ishwar Chandra Vidyasagar statue in Kolkata’s College Street.
Addressing a gathering after unveiling of a statue of the 19th century Bengali renaissance figure, Banerjee accused the saffron party of destroying the bust during the violence of 14 May at College Street in Kolkata.
“Why did you do vandalism? Why did you throw the bust away? Not everyone is deserving of wearing saffron,” she said, adding, “I did not break Karl Marx’s statue after defeating the Left.”
“It is not vandalism; it is an attack on our culture, tradition and consciousness. It is an attack on the sentiments of the Bengalis,” Banerjee, the TMC chief, said.
The Bengal CM said that Bengal is being defamed, adding that “Bengal is not Gujarat”.
“Every state has its own heritage and language. It’s our India. But BJP will not decide the fate of the state. They will say Tamil Nadu ko ab Hindi seekhna hai, arey ab koi Hindi seekhne ka course thodi karega. This is not done,” she was quoted as saying by ANI.
Banerjee on Tuesday unveiled a new statue of Ishwar Chandra Vidyasagar, less than 30 days after the bust of the Bengali renaissance icon was vandalised during a clash between TMC and BJP workers in Kolkata.
She garlanded Vidyasagar’s bust at a ceremonial programme at the Hare School ground in College Street. The bust will be reinstalled at the Vidyasagar College, where the original statue stood, later in the day.
On 14 May, at the height of the Lok Sabha elections 2019, clashes erupted between supporters of the BJP and the TMC at College Street during a roadshow of BJP chief (now Home Minister) Amit Shah.
Shah’s roadshow was allegedly pelted with stones. The BJP blamed TMC for triggering the violence that led to a pitched battle between the two sides.
It was during this incident that Vidyasagar’s statue was desecrated by unidentified miscreants. The TMC blamed the BJP for the incident, alleging that the destruction of the bust of the 19th century icon was carried out by “outsiders” belonging to the saffron party.
But the BJP, too, attacked TMC and Banerjee over the vandalism of the statue.
On 16 May, three days before the last phase of the Lok Sabha elections, Prime Minister Narendra Modi launched a blistering attack on Banerjee over the bust destruction.
While accusing TMC of the political violence in Bengal, PM Modi announced that his government will install a grand statue of Vidyasagar at the same spot.