A video clip where West Bengal Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee is seen sitting in a wheelchair and moving her plastered leg back and forth has gone viral on social media, giving her rivals, especially the BJP, an opportunity to claim that she was pretending to have been wounded to win sympathy. The All India Trinamool Congress (AITC), however, has condemned the “manner in which the party supremo has been insulted”. Her party said the BJP should learn how to respect women.
The Election Commission of India (ECI), in its report, had concluded that the incident in Nandigram, which left Banerjee injured, was not an attack even though the TMC had alleged otherwise.
The incident, which took place at Birulia Bazaar in Nandigram in District East Midnapore on 10 March after Banerjee filed her nomination, had remained a talking point for the media covering the state election for more than a week. While Mamata Banerjee floated a “conspiracy theory” of attack on her by four or five unknown persons, with her party insinuating it was the BJP behind the attack, she herself changed the version of the incident subsequently. The report of special observer Ajay Nayak and special police observer Vivek Dubey to West Bengal for the state election stated, however, that nobody had attacked the chief minister.
“The incident was not a planned attack but an accident. It had taken place suddenly”, the source said quoting the report. Onlookers said the chief minister’s car had actually hit an iron pole sticking out of the ground on the way of her convoy. However, they clarify it was not Mamata Banerjee but a bodyguard who was standing on the footboard of the second row of seats of the moving Scorpio car. They say the pole would have hit her security personnel rather as he stood in front of her.
Mamata ‘invited’ to Varanasi
Meanwhile, Prime Minister Narendra Modi named his Lok Sabha constituency Varanasi to make the AITC’s “outsider” comment at BJP boomerang back to Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee and her party. At a rally about 60 km away from where the chief minister was addressing a crowd, Modi said, “Didi is now looking for a place outside. Welcome to Varanasi. There is a ship that goes from Haldia to Varanasi. One more thing, the people of my Benaras are so large-hearted they won’t call you a tourist or outsider. They are as large-hearted as the people of Bengal,” the prime minister said.
One of the main weapons that the AITC has deployed in the West Bengal campaign is projecting the BJP as a party alien to the state. Banerjee in her attacks on Modi has often warned that the BJP would “destroy the culture of Bengal”.
The AITC had said Banerjee would contest the next general election from Varanasi in reply to the prime minister’s question whether she would fight from another seat apart from Nandigram due to “insecurity” in the Bengal election.