CPM Leaders Out On Kolkata Streets After Lenin Statues Razed In Tripura

CPI(M) general secretary Sitaram Yechury, and politburo members Prakash Karat and Brinda Karat led the rally from Pramode Dasgupta Bhavan to Dharmtala in the heart of Kolkata where a statue of Lenin still stands

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CPI(M) leaders protest in Kolkata against razing of Lenin statues in Tripura

Kolkata:  The shock defeat in Tripura was bad enough for the CPI(M). But the demolition of the statue of communism's icon Vladimir Lenin at south Tripura's Belonia, a four-hour drive from capital Agartala, was such a symbolic blow that it brought the party's top leaders out on the streets of Kolkata on Tuesday. Leaders of the Communist Party of India (Marxist) condemned the destruction of the statue allegedly by BJP workers.

CPI(M) general secretary Sitaram Yechury, and politburo members Prakash Karat and Brinda Karat led the rally from Pramode Dasgupta Bhavan to Dharmtala in the heart of Kolkata where a statue of Lenin still stands.

"You may demolish as many statues as you like," said Mr Yechury, "but you cannot destroy the spirit of the communists. The red flag will rise."

West Bengal Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee, who came to power ending the 34-year CPI(M) rule, also condemned the demolition of the statue. "If you think just because you have come to power, you will break the statues of Marx and Lenin and Gandhi and Swami Vivekananda... We will not accept it," Ms Banerjee said.

The CPI(M) rally began at 4:30 pm. But before that another rally led by the Socialist Unity Centre of India (Communist) or SUCI gathered around the statue at noon and marched to the busy road crossing at Dharmtala, blocked it briefly and burnt an effigy of Prime Minister Narendra Modi.

"What has happened is barbaric," SUCI leader Tarun Mondal said. "And we are shocked not just because it was the statue of our hero, Lenin, that was destroyed. We are shocked almost as badly as the time the Taliban pulled down the statue of the Buddha at Bamiyan."

In Delhi, CPI(M) parliamentarian Md Salim gave a memorandum to PM Modi, seeking his intervention. "514 individuals were injured, 1,539 houses were attacked, 196 houses were set on fire, 134 party offices were attacked and 208 party offices were captured. The attacks are continuing," the memorandum said.

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At a rally in Bankura district, Mamata Banerjee said, "We also fought against the CPI(M). Our slogan was 'we don't want revenge, we only want change'. They seem to be enjoying it -- destroying things, burning things. No one is protesting. But I will protest. I have ideological differences with CPI(M). But I don't support torture by the CPI(M) or by the  BJP."

West Bengal BJP chief Dilip Ghosh, however, defended the razing of the statues. "They have to accept a little bit of thrashing. What did they expect? Everything vegetarian?" Mr Ghosh said.

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