Kolkata: BJP and TMC supporters Tuesday fought pitched battles on the streets of Kolkata during a massive roadshow by Amit Shah, who escaped unhurt but was forced to cut short the jamboree and had to be escorted to safety by police.
Parts of the city plunged into a welter of violence as his convoy was attacked with stones by alleged TMC supporters from inside the hostel of Vidyasagar College, triggering a clash between supporters of the two parties, officials said.
Furious BJP supporters retaliated and were seen exchanging blows with their TMC rivals outside the college entrance.
Several motorcycles parked outside were vandalised and set ablaze. Shards of broken glass littered the lobby of the college where a bust of Ishwar Chandra Vidyasagar, a noted philosopher and a key figure of Bengal Renaissance, was smashed to smithreens. Police personnel were seen trying to douse the fire with buckets filled with water.
Contingents of Kolkata Police deployed for the roadshow swung into action and were seen chasing away the warring groups.
“There was an attempt by TMC hooligans to attack me. Mamata Banerjee (West Bengal chief minister) tried to provoke violence. But I am safe,” Shah told a Hindi TV news channel.
Shah said while clashes erupted police remained a mute spectator. He said he was told by police that the permission for the roadshow ended near the college and that he will be taken to the ancestral home of Swami Vivekananda on Bidhan Sarani.
“They (police) deviated from the planned route and took a way where there were traffic jams. I was not allowed to reach Swami Vivekananda’s house to pay tributes and I am saddened by it,” Shah claimed.
Banerjee hit right back, calling Shah a “goonda”. “If you lay your hands on Vidyasagar, what will I call you other than a goonda,” he told a rally in Behala in the city.
“I hate your ideology, I hate your ways,” she said, and announced a protest rally on Thursday against the vandalisation of the bust of Vidyasagar.
Earlier, there was a scuffle when a group shouted slogans against Shah outside the Calcutta University campus and showed him black flags. Police, however, swiftly brought the situation under control.