Kolkata/New Delhi: Amid an unprecedented public spat between West Bengal chief minister Mamata Banerjee and governor Keshari Nath Tripathi, the state government informed New Delhi on Thursday that it does not need an extra 400 Central troops for deployment in the riot-hit areas of North 24-Parganas district.
"We have sent eight companies of paramilitary forces (of 100 personnel each) to West Bengal to deploy in the communal violence-affected areas. However, the West Bengal government has conveyed it does not require four of the eight companies," a Union home ministry spokesman told the media in New Delhi. The state government hasn't given any reason for this.
The communal clashes that erupted at Baduria in Basirhat subdivision of the district on Monday, after an objectionable Facebook post, claimed its first victim on Thursday with a 65-year-old victim dying of stab wounds. The situation in the violence-hit areas was, meanwhile, returning to normal with no fresh incidents of violence reported, a senior official said.
After the death on Thursday, a scuffle broke out between BJP workers and Trinamul supporters in front of Kolkata's R.G. Kar Hospital with senior BJP leaders like Kailash Vijayvargiya and Dilip Ghosh trying to enter the premises, claiming to stand by the family of the deceased. Trinamul workers blocked the vehicles of Mr Vijayvargiya and Mr Ghosh.
A team of three BJP MPs - Meenakshi Lekhi, Satpal Singh and Om Mathur - will visit Basirhat on Friday for an on-the-spot probe, after which they will submit a report to BJP president Amit Shah, party sources said.
In the wake of the spat between the governor and the chief minister, BJP national secretary Rahul Sinha meanwhile added to the controversy on Thursday by calling the governor a "a soldier of the Modi brigade", which the Trinamul Congress immediately latched on to, with TMC secretary Partha Chatterjee saying the "cat was out of the bag".
Mr Vijayvargiya, the BJP general secretary in charge of West Bengal, tried to do damage control by saying he didn't endorse Mr Sinha's statement, reiterating that the governor's post was a "constitutional and impartial" one. When asked about the spat between Ms Banerjee and Mr Tripathi, Mr Sinha said: "The Trinamul Congress is under the illusion that the governor can be silenced by hurling such derogatory language at him. But they have forgotten that Keshari Nath Tripathi is a soldier of the Modi brigade. The governor's recent statement makes it clear he is not afraid of the Trinamul Congress and can't be stopped from performing his duty."
TMC secretary general Partha Chatterjee said: "Now the cat is out of the bag. What we have been saying for the last few days has proved to be true from Mr Sinha's statement. The BJP is trying to turn the governor's house into a party office and the governor is also supporting it by making such statements."
Mr Vijayvargiya, in a bid to contain the damage, said at a press conference: "I have not heard what Mr Sinha said. But if he did, we do not endorse his statement. The governor's post is constitutional and impartial, and he has always given dignity to his post." He also attacked the Trinamul Congress for targeting the governor. "Those who will be landing in jail in the chit fund cases are making such statements against the governor. I would want to inform them that in the days to come, they will have to go to jail for the way they have looted the money of people in the chit fund scam," he added.