The BJP has accused Trinamool Congress activists of hacking one of its workers to death at Ketugram in West Bengal's Burdwan district today. News agency IANS quoted sources as saying that the victim -- 50-year-old Sushil Mandal -- was killed while he was putting up BJP flags to mark Prime Minister Narendra Modi's swearing-in ceremony in New Delhi later this evening.
"The victim was hacked to death. We are trying to identify the culprit," an officer with the Ketugram police station told IANS.
While local Trinamool Congress leaders have denied their involvement in the murder, the police said they cannot comment on the matter until a proper investigation is conducted. "A man has died, suspects have been named, and the usual routine of political blame-game has started. We are looking into the matter," the officer said.
The BJP claims that the ruling party has been carrying out retaliatory attacks on its supporters in the area ever since the results of the Lok Sabha elections were announced. The Trinamool Congress was earlier accused of destroying tubewells and snapping water lines in three areas of West Burdwan and Bribhum districts over the last one week. The BJP cites the reason as the victory of its candidate, SS Ahluwalia, against his nearest rival, Mamtaz Sanghamita of the Trinamool Congress, by a slender margin of 2,439 votes in the Burdwan-Durgapur seat.
"All tubewells in Birbhum constituency's Kanakpur village were damaged because we did well," said BJP worker Laltu Mondal.
Trinamool panchayat member Panchanan Das, however, insisted that his party has done nothing to damage the tubewells. "These are false allegations. The BJP has won, and now it is trying to frame us in false cases," he said, adding that the tubewells have now been fixed.
BJP workers in Birbhum's Rampurhat block also alleged that Trinamool workers damaged five to six tubewells in the area after the victory their candidate, Dudh Kumar Mondal, in the Lok Sabha elections.
The BJP has long accused the Trinamool Congress of trying to intimidate its workers in West Bengal through violence. On Wednesday, Trinamool Congress chief Mamata Banerjee decided against attending PM Modi's swearing-in ceremony this evening over allegations by the BJP that as many as 54 of its workers were killed in political violence across the state in the last six years.
"The ceremony is an august occasion to celebrate democracy, not one that should be devalued by any political party that uses it as an opportunity to score political points," the West Bengal Chief Minister wrote in a note to the Prime Minister, adding that "no political murders" were carried out in her state.
After a bitterly fought election, the BJP ended up winning 18 of the 42 seats in West Bengal -- just four less than the Trinamool Congress' tally of 22. Mamata Banerjee's party had bagged 34 seats in the 2014 Lok Sabha election.
(With inputs from IANS)