Stones were hurled at a BJP roadshow in Kolkata this evening, hours after Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee's rally at Nandigram where she pitched herself against party turncoat Suvendu Adhikari in the coming state elections. He was leading the roadshow down an area viewed as a bastion of the ruling Trinamool Congress in Kolkata when bottles were reportedly thrown from rooftops, some people carrying Trinamool flags were seen hurling stones at the roadshow and shouting "go back" slogans.
Trouble was reported from at least three locations on the BJP roadshow's 2.5 km route from Tollygunge Metro Station to Rash Behari More in south Kolkata -- an area that is the bastion of the Trinamool.
A huge police force was deployed immediately to maintain calm. Trinamool leader Arup Biswas who rushed to the spot claimed the BJP had planned and provoked the clashes. He also claimed BJP supporters in the roadshow chased the flag-waving Trinamool supporters into narrow lanes off the main road and attacked them
The BJP roadshow was a tit-for-tat show of strength against Mamata Banerjee on a day she had gone to Nandigram. It was led by BJP state chief Dilip Ghosh and Suvendu Adhikari, who was Trinamool's MLA in Nandigram till he joined the BJP in December.
The stone pelting in the heart of Kolkata comes less than six weeks after the convoy of Mr JP Nadda, BJP president, was stoned at Diamond Harbour and triggered a bitter row between the state and the Centre.
On January 8, trouble had broken out at a rally at Nandigram called by Adhikari and attended by top BJP leaders. Trinamool claimed BJP workers had thrown stones at newcomers who had come come to join the BJP. Mr Adhikari blamed the Trinamool.
Trinamool Congress has been toe-to-toe with the BJP and political tension has been rising as the state elections inch closer. Elections to the 294-member assembly are due in April-May.
Over the last months, there have been multiple instances of political violence, for which the two parties have blamed each other. In July last year, the BJP had issued a list of more than 100 names, which it said were of its workers killed by the Trinamool Congress.
The ruling party had denied all allegations, accusing the BJP of making politically motivated false claims.
In December, Mukul Roy, Kailash Vijayvargiya and five other BJP leaders had approached the Supreme Court, alleging witch-hunt by the Bengal Police at the behest of the Trinamool Congress after cases relating to political violence were lodged against them. They got a reprieve from the court, which asked the state police not to take any immediate action against them.
Last week, Bengal Governor Jagdeep Dhankhar met Union Home Minister Amit Shah in Delhi and discussed, among other things, the possibility of violence in the upcoming assembly elections.
"When we look at the panchayat elections of 2018 and the general elections of 2019, it is seen that they have been bloody; rules have been violated and voters have been under stress," said the Governor, who has been accused by the Trinamool of repeatedly violating the constitution with his words and action against the West Bengal government.