Kolkata: West Bengal's politics of violence reached the national capital on Tuesday as Students Federation of India activists manhandled State Finance Minster Amit Mitra outside the Planning Commission. While West Bengal Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee was angered by the incident, Trinamool Congress workers went on a rampage in Kolkata and plan a statewide protest on Wednesday even as the CPM has condemned the violence of its student affiliate body.
Mamata Banerjee cancelled her meeting with Prime Minister Manmohan Singh following the incident. She is expected to meet Finance Minister P Chidambaram on Wednesday.
On Tuesday, Amit Mitra was manhandled by SFI activists protesting against Sudipto Gupta's death. Mamata was livid. As the protesters chanted "Mamata Banerjee hai hai (Mamata down down), TMC hai hai, Hatyari Mamata sharm karo (have shame, killer Mamata)", an agitated Chief Minister walked into the building shouting, "This is uncivilised behaviour".
"You know why they are protesting. I have 10 lakh people with me. I can bring them to Delhi. They don't want development of West Bengal," she said. Irked by the scene that unfolded outside, she complained to Planning Commission Deputy Chairman Montek Singh Ahluwalia, "You have created a new precedent. My minister was assaulted. This is scandalous. There were 20 hooligans. Can you stop development of a state like this?" Mamata said.
"We were not allowed to enter the Planning Commission. The Left will never come back in West Bengal. It's dirty politics," a furious Mamata added.
Mamata later branded the protests as "mere hooliganism". "This is mere hooliganism. This is not protest. I could have been killed. This is the situation outside Planning Commission in New Delhi. Where's the security?" Mamata said, in a veiled attack on Ahluwalia, who later apologised for the violence. "We have tendered an apology, although the fault is not ours," he said.
Her party workers back home went on a rampage. Left activists were attacked and their offices were vandalised. Trinamool leaders were soon appealing for calm and the Left, too, joined in.
West Bengal Industries Minister Partha Chatterjee said, "I know you are angry but we must be calm and not shame our leader." Left leader Biman Bose said, "I appeal to everyone not be provoked."
The Left Front has called for an emergency meeting on Wednesday while the Trinamool workers wearing black bands will hit the streets protesting the attack on their leaders. The SFI, which was on the offensive following its cadre Sudipto Gupta's death just last week, now stands isolated with CPM top leaders condemning the incident.
An FIR has been lodged against the SFI activists. Amit Mitra and Mamata Banerjee have been given medical attention.