As the Congress in West Bengal on Tuesday threatened to intensify its agitation over the proposed renaming of Indira Bhavan at Salt Lake, Trinamool Congress chief Mamata Banerjee alleged the Congress was colluding with the Communist Party of India (Marxist) to attack her party.
"In West Bengal, the CPI(M) and the Congress are working together. Our partymen are being attacked at places like Keshpur and Garbeta," Banerjee said while reacting to protest-agitations by Congress workers over the Indira Bhavan issue.
The government has proposed to rename Indira Bhavan, where late prime minister Indira Gandhi stayed during the 1972 All India Congress Committee session and hence the name, after rebel poet Kavi Nazrul Islam.
Banerjee, the state's chief minister, alleged the Congress cadres were carrying out a campaign of vilification.
"Some men of the Congress are carrying out campaign on the Indira Bhavan issue. They (Congress) are blocking roads and railway tracks daily and abusing me daily. But I have not uttered anything against Prime Minister Manmohan Singh or against Sonia Gandhi," she said.
Banerjee pointed out that the building was a state guest house where the late Marxist leader Jyoti Basu had stayed for more than a decade till his death.
Congressmen were now agitating, but they were silent when the house was used as a CPI(M) party office when Jyoti Basu was staying there, she reminded Congress, Trinamool's ally in the government.
Her party was "respectful" to Indira Gandhi and the Trinamool Congress-led Kolkata Municipal Corporation had erected the former prime minister's statue at a prominent place in the metropolis, she said.
"After the CPI(M) returned the building to the government following Jyoti Basu's death, six government departments wanted to use the building. But we said a Nazrul academy would be set up instead," she said.
She said it would house a museum on the poet and also Indo-Bangla Friendship Foundation.
"Nazrul had gone over to Bangladesh because he did not get his due recognition here. This is our shame. I think this academy would strengthen the friendship between India and Bangladesh."
West Bengal Pradesh Congress Committee president Pradip Bhattacharya on Tuesday said that the Indira Bhavan issue involved sentiments of the party's workers.
Bhattacharya was speaking during an agitation staged by the Youth Congress, led by party MP Mausam Noor, on the issue near Birla Planetarium in south Kolkata.
He, however, expressed hope that the Mamata Banerjee government would desist from the move to rename the Indira Bhavan, saying, "If this is not done, we shall intensify our agitation statewide."
He said that mere assurance by Mamata Banerjee not to go ahead with renaming the Bhavan would not do; the Congress wanted a 'written' assurance.