Hundreds of BJP protesters clashed with the police outside the Bengal government secretariat “Nabanna” today, throwing to the winds safety measures for coronavirus, including social distancing. Visuals from the spot showed police dressed in riot gear trying to disperse the crowd with tear gas and water cannons as stones were thrown from the other side.
“The police is lathicharging our people… Stone-pelting is being done from Khidirpur side. Can’t the police see that?” said BJP leader Locket Chatterjee.
The BJP held the “Nabanna Chalo” (Let’s go to Nabanna) protest flouting the government’s prohibitory orders banning large gatherings. New BJP youth wing chief Tejasvi Surya flew down to the city to take part in the protest, which is seen as the party’s show of strength in the state capital Kolkata.
The secretariat, where Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee’s office is also located, is shut for two days, starting today, for sanitization — which the BJP said is a reflection of her fear”.
“Didi has shut down Nabanna tomorrow, which is fine Nabanna will shut down anyway within a few months,” Bengal BJP chief Dilip Ghosh said yesterday — the day Bengal logged its highest Covid figure so far, with 3,455 patients testing positive for the disease.
Asked about the risk of holding a protest during a pandemic and associated violation of rules, the BJP’s Bengal in-charge Kailash Vijayvargiya asserted that BJP workers protesting at the site are wearing masks.
“Are rules only for us? Mamata Ji holds demonstrations with thousands and we’re being taught lessons of social distancing. Do same rules not apply to her?” he added, pointing to Mamata Banerjee’s recent rally against the farm bills.
The BJP has escalated its unofficial campaign in a bid to capture the assembly in the state where it won 18 of the 42 parliamentary seats in last year’s general election. Party leaders asserted yesterday that Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee is on her way out.