The BJP's candidate in West Bengal's Basirhat Lok Sabha seat raised a controversy on Tuesday with his comments that people who try to capture booths in the national elections should be shot to death.
"If goons try to capture booths on polling day, I will tell the CRPF that their bullets must go through the heart and not at the feet. This is a fight to save democracy," said Sayantan Basu at a party event in Basirhat.
He referred to incidents across West Bengal last year during the panchayat elections, when the Trinamool Congress's workers were accused of capturing booths and igniting violence against BJP workers, as the reason behind his call to "shoot troublemakers".
Mr Basu, who is also the BJP's general secretary in Bengal, said if rivals caused trouble on polling day, he will instruct the paramilitary forces to open fire on them and "shoot to kill". His message to BJP workers was not different.
"I am telling BJP workers, don't cry if you are thrashed. Simply hit back. Don't beat up innocent people and the poor, but don't leave the troublemakers. You will die only once. Kill those who come to kill you before you die," Mr Basu said at the party event.
He also asked women to keep their traditional knives - bonti and daa - sharpened so they could deal with troublemakers on polling day.
Senior Trinamool leader Jyotipriyo Mullick said the party will inform the Election Commission about Mr Basu's comments and seek action against him, news agency PTI reported. "The BJP is trying to vitiate the poll atmosphere by making such provocative statements. The EC should take action against him," Mr Mullick said.
The Trinamool also pointed out that the central police observer appointed for the Lok Sabha elections in Bengal and Jharkhand, KK Sharma, a former Director General of the Border Security Force, was seen in a photograph attending a function backed by the BJP's ideological mentor, Rashtriya Swayamsevak Sangh in February last year. "What is a serving BSF DG KK Sharma doing in uniform at the RSS-backed NGO's function in Kolkata? We will take the issue to the home minister," Trinamool leader Derek O'Brien had had tweeted last year.
West Bengal will vote in seven phases beginning April 11.
With inputs from PTI