Twenty-four hours after Mamata Banerjee was greeted with slogans of "Jai Shri Ram" in the Barrackpore Lok Sabha constituency, the inspector in-charge of the local police station was today changed for the second time in 10 days.
Ten young men were questioned ostensibly for a police probe into local crimes today, but the BJP claims it was done in connection with the slogan shouting. They were later released. But now the newly elected BJP MP from Barrackpore, Arjun Singh, has declared that he will sit on dharna at the Jagaddal police station from 4 pm tomorrow to protest their harassment.
The Barrackpore Lok Sabha seat that the Trinamool Congress' Dinesh Trivedi lost to former party colleague Arjun Singh is proving to be a hotspot for the state government. Parts of the constituency have seen clashes and violence between BJP and Trinamool Congress supporters, and even communal tensions. The ruling party claims that around 400 of its supporters have been driven out of the area by the BJP. Sixty Trinamool Congress corporators from four civic bodies in the constituency have also joined the BJP.
Mamata Banerjee had decided to launch her Trinamool Congress turnaround from Barrackpore. But even that effort ran into trouble. Around 5 pm on Thursday, the chief minister's convoy was greeted with "Jai Shri Ram" slogans. This was in the Bhatpara-Kakinada area of the Jagaddal police station area.
Ms Banerjee stopped her car, berated the sloganeers, returned to her car. When the slogans were shouted afresh, she dashed out of her vehicle and rushed towards the sloganeers, challenging them to come and confront her. She addressed the slogan shouters as criminals, outsiders and worse. Asked if she would order their arrest, she had said: "The police will do their job."
BJP state president Dilip Ghosh -- in his reaction to the incident -- said the more Mamata Banerjee protests against the chant, the more public support she would lose in West Bengal. "It seems she lost her cool because she couldn't digest her party's performance in the Lok Sabha polls," he added.
Party national general secretary and Bengal minder Kailash Vijayvargiya also criticised Mamata Banerjee's "behaviour". "She doesn't get angry at Bangladeshi infiltrators, Rohingyas, murderers and rapists. But she gets angry at young men who chant "Jai Shri Ram". Is chanting 'Jai Shri Ram' a crime in Bengal?" news agency PTI quoted him as saying.
Today, some young men were detained by the police apparently for a probe into local crimes. They were questioned and let off, but the inspector in-charge was replaced soon afterwards.
Arindam Mukherjee will take over as the in-charge of Jagaddal police station tomorrow from Chandrashekhar Das, who had joined only on May 21. Chandrashekhar Das had replaced Shamsher Khan, who was posted in Jagaddal barely two months ago.
Barrackpore is likely to remain in the headlines in the coming weeks. The Trinamool Congress-turned-BJP corporators of the Naihati municipality were reportedly preparing to move a no-confidence motion against the Trinamool Congress chairman when the state government appointed an administrator for the civic body till fresh polls are held.