West Bengal Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee
A move which may trigger a new controversy, the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) has decided to send 10 lakh post cards with "Jai Shri Ram" written on them to West Bengal Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee, party’s newly elected lawmaker Arjun Singh, who had joined the BJP before the Lok Sabha Polls.
Singh, a former Trinamool Congress MLA, alleged the police had lathicharged a group of BJP workers who were chanting "Jai Shri Ram" during a demonstration outside a property where TMC leaders were holding a meeting.
"We have decided to send 10 lakh post cards with 'Jai Shri Ram' written on them to the chief minister's residence," Singh said news agency PTI.
TMC leaders had assembled in Kanchrapara in North 24 Parganas district to chalk out a strategy to retake party offices taken over allegedly by BJP workers, Trinamool sources said.
Kanchrapara comes under Singh's Barrackpore parliamentary constituency. TMC leader and state minister Jyotipriya Mallick claimed Singh and Subhrangshu Roy, BJP leader Mukul Roy's son who quit TMC and joined the saffron party on Tuesday, had conspired to incite trouble in the area.
Police sources said those gathered outside the meeting venue raised slogans and alleged that the presence of Mallick and other TMC leaders like Madan Mitra, Tapas Roy and Sujit Bose was detrimental to peace in the area.
The Police and Rapid Action Force personnel first tried to persuade the protesters but later restored to lathicharge when the situation started to slip out of their hands, the sources said.
"This is unprecedented. We had not seen this culture in Bengal. This is the culture of the BJP," Mallick said.
Singh denied the allegation.
"The TMC leaders are talking nonsense. People rejected the TMC and this is their reaction," he said.
In the just-concluded election, BJP emerged as a political force in Bengal and won 18 seats out of the total 42. Since then, TMC leaders have been switching over to the saffron party. Asked if the TMC will file a police complaint over the protest, Mallick said his party will deal with it politically. The state minister also alleged that the protesters tried to attack his car.
A police officer said shops and markets were shut down as tension prevailed there. "No one was arrested but a police picket has been set up. We are taking all measures so that peace is not distributed in the area," he said.
On Friday, the West Bengal BJP hit out at Banerjee for losing her temper when a group of men shouted 'Jai Shri Ram' in front of her car. It asked whether it is a crime to chant the phrase in the state.
On Thursday, Banerjee had lost her cool when some men shouted 'Jai Shri Ram' as her motorcade passed through Bhatpara area under Barrackpore Lok Sabha constituency. Earlier this month in West Midnapore district, a video showed Banerjee getting angry when some men chanted 'Jai Shri Ram' at her motorcade.
(With PTI inputs)