The face-off between West Bengal Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee and the BJP further intensified today after police used water cannons and tear gas to disperse BJP workers who were marching towards Lal Bazar to protest against the Trinamool Congress government.
The saffron party workers, along with 18 newly elected MPs in the state and BJP state president Dilip Ghosh, were marching towards the Kolkata Police headquarters in Lalbazar from the Wellington area of the city. Bengal’s BJP minder Kailash Vijayvargiya and senior party leader Mukul Roy also joined the march.
The agitators started the rally from central Kolkata’s Subodh Mullick Square and broke a barricade at Ganesh Chandra Avenue, close to 200 meters from entry gate of Lalbazar. The police fired two water cannons to disperse them.
The Rapid Action Force personnel lobbed tear gas shells at the rallyists and resorted to minor baton charge on the Central Avenue to stop them from re-organising the rally. In retaliation, the saffron party workers raised slogans and hurled stones and bottles at the officers. Some of the party workers were seen holding a sit-in demonstration in the area in protest.
“We will continue our protest programme in a peaceful manner. The streets of Kolkata do not belong to Mamata Banerjee alone that she would throttle the democratic movement using her police force. Shame, shame Mamata Banerjee,” state BJP leader Jay Prakash Majumdar said.
BJP state General Secretary Raju Banerjee had gone unconscious in the scuffle. He was taken to a hospital. Earlier in the day, three members of BJP’s women wing (Mahila Morcha) were arrested by the police for demonstrating in front of Lalbazar.