Stones thrown in BJP protest over Bengal poll tickets, cops use batons
Kolkata: The police had to use batons to disperse protesters outside the BJP election office in Kolkata on Tuesday as demonstrators, upset with the party’s choice of candidates for some seats, started throwing stones.
Police sources said they had to use a “mild lathi-charge” to control the crowd that allegedly targeted a BJP leader as he emerged from the office at Hastings. Six people have been detained for stone-throwing, according to last reports from police sources.
BJP spokesperson Samik Bhattacharya said at a press meet, “It is impossible BJP workers turned violent. This is some kind of conspiracy.”
In a video of the incident, a man with a slipper in his hand is seen rushing to a person in a golf cap escorted by security personnel. He is hastily escorted into the building when a stone can be seen thrown at him.
It is not clear if the stone hit him or any of the policemen present.
Immediately, the police resorted to a lathi-charge, dispersing scores of BJP supporters gathered at the entrance to the building since yesterday.
BJP supporters present at the spot today were from Diamond Harbour seat where its former Trinamool MLA Dipak Haldar has been fielded by BJP. Haldar joined BJP just weeks ago. Protesters also came in from Joynagar, Kultali, South Habra and Udaynarayanpur.
Hundreds of supporters of the BJP had held angry protest outside the party’s election office in Kolkata all day on Monday, even heckling senior leaders Mukul Roy, Arjun Singh and Shiv Prakash, to protest a large number of former Trinamool leaders being given BJP tickets.
The lathi-charge and protests took place on a day Union Minster Amit Shah arrived unexpectedly in Kolkata late last night on his way from Guwahati to Delhi. BJP chief JP Nadda, too, landed last night for a day-long campaign.
Dramatic visuals from outside the BJP’s election office at Hastings showed hundreds of people jostling and shouting and pushing aside barricades in a bid to force their way into the building. A large police contingent was deployed to control the situation. Several BJP offices in the districts were ransacked.
The police put up iron barricades outside the entrance to the building housing the BJP offices on the fourth, seventh and eighth floor but the crowds repeatedly surged forward, trying to pull them down and forcibly enter the building. The face-off continued till late in the evening.
Also in the evening, agitated BJP workers ransacked the party office at Singur and the BJP’s district headquarters office at Chinsura, both in the Hooghly district.
Sources say these seats had strong local contenders for tickets. Their supporters have rebelled, threatening to field Independent candidates to defeat official BJP candidates even if it meant Trinamool sails through.
For the BJP, the candidate list for the state’s 294 seats was expected to be a tough balancing act.
Over the last months, a steady stream of leaders from the state’s ruling Trinamool Congress has crossed over to the BJP – leaders who knew they would not get tickets again, the Trinamool had jeered. The BJP has given many of them tickets but upset its own party workers.