- Goons from outside Bengal only can vandalise statue: Trinamool Congress
- Bengal does not beg, state has enough to build a statue: Mamata Banerjee
- The BJP, however, claimed the Trinamool had engineered the vandalism
Bengal Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee -- accused by the BJP of engineering the vandalism of the statue of 19th century reformer Ishwar Chandra Vidyasagar -- on Thursday provided a laundry list of such destruction the BJP is allegedly responsible for.
The smashing of the statue has become an emotive issue - Vidyasagar had been Bengal's Renaissance man who, among other things, had championed the cause of women's education and remarriage of widows.
Mamata Banerjee's Trinamool Congress has contended that only goons from outside Bengal who are oblivious of the state's history and heritage, could be capable of such an act.
The BJP, however, claimed the Trinamool had engineered the vandalism, so they could malign it ahead of the last phase of election, in which nine seats in the state, including capital Kolkata, will vote.
In a Facebook post on Thursday, Ms Banerjee said the incident was not an isolated one.
"They vandalised age old statues in Tripura immediately after coming to power in 2018. It was a planned operation in Tripura where bulldozers were brought by BJP," she wrote.
The vandalism of two statues - that of BR Ambedkar, Dalit icon and the author of the Constitution, and social reformer Periyar EV Ramaswamy - had created furore in Uttar Pradesh and Tamil Nadu last year.
"A statue of B R Ambedkar, founding father of Indian Constitution and a legendary leader of the backward classes, was vandalised in Meerut (UP) again under BJP rule in March last year. The Periyar statue in Vellore was suspected to be broken by a worker of the same party," the Chief Minister wrote.
"This serious matter on demolition of statue was raised in Parliament in March, 2018. Following the embarrassment, the Home Ministry of the present government at the Centre had to issue two advisories to all states for taking preventive measures," she wrote.
Battle over the broken statue continued through the day, with allegations and counter-allegations between the BJP and the Trinamool.
Blaming the Trinamool Congress for the vandalism, PM Modi promised to build bigger, better statue of Vidyasagar in Bengal.
The offer was scornfully rejected by Mamata Banerjee, who pointed out that in its five-year term, the Narendra Modi government was unable to build even a small statue of the Lord Ram, a cause the party is committed to.
She also categorically said that Bengal does not beg, the state has enough to build a statue.
The reference was to the "Kangal Bangla" (Beggar Bengal) comment by Amit Shah earlier this week that held Mamata Banerjee responsible for the economic crisis in the state.
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