Trinamool Congress National General Secretary Abhishek Banerjee's convoy was today attacked allegedly by BJP supporters during his visit to Tripura to launch his party's bid to dislodge the Biplab Deb government in the Assembly polls of 2023.
Posting a video of the attack, Mr Banerjee tweeted: "Democracy in Tripura under @BJP4India rule! Well done @BjpBiplab for taking the state to new heights."
He was on his way to the Tripureshwari temple from the Agartala airport when the attack shown in the video took place.
His convoy was first stopped at Charilam in West Tripura district as protesting BJP workers raised slogans, trying to block the road, police sources told PTI. A group of BJP workers also tried to stop him at Kamalasagar in Sipahijala district, raisinggo back slogans against him, they said.
Speaking at a press conference later, the leader, nephew of West Bengal Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee, said the BJP can't stop the Trinamool.
"We will free the people of Tripura," he said, taking a dig at the Tripura Chief Minister Biplab Kumar Deb, "If Biplab babu can stop us, let him try."
Trinamool MP Derek O'Brien raise the issue in the Rajya Sabha, condemning the attack.
Last week, when Trinamool leaders descended on Agartala, Chief Minister Deb had said "Atithi devo bhava" or the guest is God. They had visited Tripura to protest the detention of poll strategist Prashant Kishor's IPAC team that had gone there to survey the political scene in Tripura.
Today, his officer on special duty posted some videos claiming Mr Banerjee's personal security officer had attacked some media persons. The BJP's West Bengal unit also wondered if those behind today's attack were really their workers.
In Bengal, such attacks on the opposition are routine, the West Bengal BJP tweeted.
"The kind of attack I faced from BJP goondas, then what are the people facing..In Bengal we have duare sarkar or the 'government at your doorstep'. In Tripura, it is 'criminals at your doorstep'," he said, playing on the Mamata Banerjee administration's programme there.
His party alleged that the BJP had also damaged flags and festoons of the West Bengal Chief Minister, besides those showing Mr Banerjee, which had been used to decorate Agartala to welcome him.
"Shocking display of absolute hooliganism by the @BJP4Tripura government! When it comes to BJP, ruthlessness and DISRESPECT FOR DEMOCRACY seems to be running the show. You can keep trying but you cannot erase us from the hearts of the people of #Tripura! Shameful attempt," the Trinamool state unit tweeted, according to PTI.
Mr Banerjee said his party had begun the organisational work in the state and that a "Ma, Mati, Manush" government will be formed in Tripura in 2023, after the next assembly poll is held. He was using one of his party's most evocative war cries that has been deployed effectively in the past to firm up support in West Bengal.
Today is effectively the relaunch of the Trinamool Congress in Tripura. At a function in Agartala, former BJP state president and former Congress MLA, Subal Bhowmik, was among those who joined the party, ANI reported.
In 2018, just ahead of the Assembly elections, which the BJP swept, Mr Banerjee's party had at least six MLAs in the Assembly. The then rebel leader Mukul Roy, however, wooed them away to the BJP.
Mr Roy is now back in the Trinamool Congress and is believed to be trying to get them back.
At least seven Congress leaders in Tripura joined Trinamool last week when the Trinamool leaders landed in Agartala backing Mr Kishor's IPAC team.