- Amit Shah launched fresh attack on Minister Mamata Banerjee
- He said Trinamool Congress workers vandalised iconic statue
- "This was not violence; this was an attack," Amit Shah said
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Mamata Banerjee's party also went to the Election Commission with what they claim is an authentic video of the vandalism. Her partymen have added Vidyasagar's image to their Twitter accounts and are holding a rally on the route Amit Shah's roadshow took last evening -- past the Calcutta University and Vidyasagar College.
Breaking down at a press conference in Delhi, senior Trinamool leader Derek O'Brien said the violence and vandalism "hurt the very ethos of Bengal". The attackers, he said, were shouting a slogan while they smashed the statue: "Vidyasagar shesh (over). Where's the josh?"
"This was not violence; this was an attack... There is no need for President's rule, the people will end their rule," Amit Shah told reporters. "We have been holding rallies across the country, but it's only in Bengal that violence breaks out. Why? Because of TMC," Mr Shah said, calling the clashes an attempt by the Trinamool Congress to strangle democracy.
The police said 58 people have been arrested for the violence. The Trinamool claimed that most of them are not residents of Bengal.
The vandalism has become an emotive issue in the state. Iswarchandra Vidyasagar -- a 19th Century educationist, reformer and a key figure of Bengal renaissance -- had started widow remarriage and women's education, opened schools and colleges and started the use of the Bengali language as a vehicle for literature.
Today, students held a silent protest, taping up their mouth with black tape. Another silent march was organized by the a Left-linked group. A student has filed a police complaint against Amit Shah.
The BJP chief's "Save Republic" rally yesterday offered a spectacle Kolkata had never seen -- complete with saffron balloons and artistes dressed as Lord Ram and Hanuman dancing to "Jai Shri Ram" chants, and 10,000 kg of marigold petals.
The violence started at the gates of Calcutta University. Some students in the campus allegedly shouted anti-BJP slogans and BJP supporters rushed at them with rods. Policemen stepped in to prevent a clash.
A little later, as Amit Shah's vehicle passed by Vidyasagar College, students holding up "Go Back Amit Shah" posters were attacked by saffron-wearing men -- allegedly BJP supporters -- who are on camera. The men rushed into the campus, set motorcycles on fire and vandalised the bust of Ishwar Chandra Vidyasagar.
The bitter fight for Bengal's 42 seats has seen a vitriolic campaign and violence during every round of voting in the state. Even today, PM Modi is to address rallies at Basirhat and Diamond Harbour.
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