The Centre on Wednesday sought a report from the Bengal government on the Ram Navami violence in Raniganj and Asansol and promised to send paramilitary forces if the state government needed any assist to contain the violence.
The Union government move corresponded with CM Mamata Banerjee’s camping in Delhi to cobble up a one-on-one fight against BJP in 2019, prompting the Bengal government to sniff a “political conspiracy” behind “searching an official report while offering assist”.
Raj Bhavan, too, found itself drawn into the difference. Governor Keshari Nath Tripathi, who has had public differences of opinion with the Trinamool government, initially planned to visit deputy commissioner of police Arindam Dutta Chowdhury, who was injured in the clashes in Raniganj on Monday. The trip, however, failed to take off as “the state government informed that it would be difficult to provide adequate security for the governor’s visit” because of the “deployment of police in the area”. “The situation is still tense there, including the neighbouring areas of Raniganj and Asansol,” a Raj Bhavan press release said, explaining the reasons for the trip being called off.
The epicentre of the violence in West Burdwan district, meanwhile, shifted from Raniganj to Asansol. Twenty shops were burnt in Asansol town on Wednesday, prompting the district administration to clamp Section 144 in Asansol after Raniganj.
But, in Kolkata and Delhi, the Centre’s move — and the state’s counter-statements — took centrestage. Union home secretary Rajiv Gauba called up Ben-gal chief secretary Moloy De and sought a detailed report on the situation in Raniganj and Asansol a day after BJP junior minister and Asansol MP Babul Supriyo sent an SOS to Union home minister Rajnath Singh, searching deployment of paramilitary forces.
TMC questions Centre’s ‘rapid response’
Chief secretary Moloy De briefed the Union home secretary about the violence-hit zone and told him that he would intimate the centre if the state government needed any assist.
The political wrangling started within hours of this call. State education minister and Trinamool secretary-general Partha Chatterjee questioned the motive behind the centre’s “rapid response”. “Why didn’t the centre seek a report from Bihar? Is it because the ruling party in Bihar happens to be an NDA ally?” Chatterjee asked.
The Trinamool view in Bengal was echoed in Delhi, with BSP chief Mayawati accusing the Narendra Modi government of having different standards for Bengal and Bihar. The BSP leader parroted the Trinamool stand, accusing the BJP of trying to create unrest by carrying out “protests with weapons”.
Asansol MP Babul Supriyo responded on Twitter, blaming the Bengal CM’s “ego”. “I have been told that even the governor asked the state government to agree to deployment of central forces but the state government didn’t relent,” he Tweeted. Union HRD minister Prakash Javadekar took a dig at Banerjee’s “political visit” to Delhi, comparing it with Nero’s “fiddling while Rome burnt”.
The state government, on its component, rushed special combat battalions from Kolkata and Barrackpore to West Burdwan under the guidance of three IPS officers led by Kolkata Police additional commissioner Vineet Goyal. The administration also suspended internet connectivity in Asansol and Raniganj for two days.