Kolkata: The politics of violence has kept West Bengal on the edge as police had to resort to lathicharge with the workers of Trinamool Congress and the Communist Party of India (Marxist) clashing with each other in Siliguri on Wednesday. The Left Front has called for a 12-hour bandh in Darjeeling after former Left Front minister Ashok Bhattacharya and CPM state committee member Jibesh Sarkar were arrested on Wednesday.
They have now been released. However, 52 protesters are still in custody and will be produced in court on Thursday. All this came after West Bengal Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee and State Finance Minister Amit Mitra were heckled in the national capital by suspected Students Federation of India activists.
In the TMC-CPM clashes in Siliguri on Wednesday, nearly 30 people including some journalists were injured and had to be given medical treatment. The violence took place after TMC workers allegedly tried to ransack the CPM office. Alleged TMC workers also went on a rampage at the Presidency University in Kolkata.
Students and faculty members at Kolkata's Presidency University went on a strike after TMC cadre ransacked the premises. Repeated calls for calm from the Left and TMC leaders failed to have an impact.
But violent clashes were yet again followed by the Left and the TMC trading charges at each other. While the Left blamed the TMC for violence at the Presidency University, TMC kept calling it a conspiracy by the Left.
Speaking to IBN18 Editor-in-Chief Rajdeep Sardesai, TMC leader Derek O'Brien said, "The Trinamool Congress does not even have a unit in the Presidency University. There are two parties there. The Students Federation of India and something called the IC or the Integrated Council which is supposedly a Naxalite group. This is an effort to divert attention and try and make an excuse and blame the Trinamool Congress. What the nation saw yesterday is a disgrace to the SFI and CPM. So be it. But it was also a disgrace to every one in Bengal and we made an absolute spectacle of ourselves."
Left leader Gurudas Dasgupta said, "I have no word to condone what is being done in retaliation. One thing has to be understood that a political power is a power which has a greater responsibility to ensure peace and tranquility and allow the opposition to live in peace."
Left economist Prasenjit Bose added, "What the Left did yesterday, what the CPM did yesterday was wrong, but they at least had the courtesy to say that we are wrong. Let the Trinamool own up to what they have been doing at the Presidency University, the way they have targeted other political parties."
The historic Presidency University attacked, hundreds of CPM party offices ransacked and some even torched just hours after Mamata Banerjee and Amit Mitra were heckled in Delhi - Bengal has seen some very uneasy hours. With Mamata back in Kolkata, the question is whether she will be able to now control her own party workers.