Bharatiya Janata Party chief Amit Shah's scheduled rally in Jadavpur was called off on Monday after the West Bengal government, the saffron party claimed, denied him permission to land his chopper and address the public meeting in the Lok Sabha constituency.
Accusing the West Bengal government of "replacing democracy with dictatorship", the BJP said the Election Commission has become a "mute spectator" to the Trinamool Congress's alleged undemocratic means to target the party.
The TMC, however, rebutted the allegations, claiming the BJP had cancelled the rally fearing a low turnout.
"The allegations are completely baseless. We have nothing to do with it. They themselves have cancelled the rally as they were afraid that the rally might turn out to be a flop show," TMC secretary general Partha Chatterjee said.
According to BJP national general secretary Kailash Vijayvargiya, the district administration had unnecessarily delayed the permission to land Shah's chopper claiming that they were yet to get a clearance from the Public Works Department.
"The district magistrate has been acting as a party cadre of the TMC. They kept on denying us permission for Shah's chopper. Later, they also denied us permission to hold the rally. This is not only undemocratic but also shows the TMC's authoritarian mindset," Vijayvargiya said.
According to Bengal BJP sources, the BJP had planned to go ahead with the Baruipur rally despite the state government's denial of permission, but the land owner, who had rented out his property for the meeting, withdrew his consent at the last minute.
"It was due to pressure from TMC that the owner withdrew his consent," a state BJP leader said.
The party's media head and Rajya Sabha MP Anil Baluni asserted that he along with other workers and members will hold protests and move the EC against TMC's "atrocities".
Following the cancellation of the rally, clashes broke out between the workers of the two rival parties in Baruipur.
State BJP chief Dilip Ghosh said his party workers were thrashed by TMC activists.
"TMC activists had been taunting our party men over the cancellation of the rally. When our party workers protested, they were beaten up by the ruling party cadres," he alleged.
Denying the charge, a senior TMC leader said, "The saffron party's claims are bereft of truth. It was the BJP workers that ransacked one of our local offices and attacked our party men."
A state government official said a huge police contingent has been stationed in Baruipur to thwart any untoward incident.
Earlier in the day, senior BJP leader and Union minister Prakash Javadekar said Banerjee's dictatorship is on full play in the state.
"This is murder of democracy. The EC should take cognizance of the matter. If important leaders are not allowed to hold rallies, what is the meaning of elections," he told reporters in New Delhi.
Javadekar also slammed the state police for arresting a BJP youth-wing worker, who shared a social media post mocking Banerjee.
TMC leaders such as Derek O'Brien have shared "uglier" posts but no action was taken against them, he claimed.
Nine seats will go to polls in the last phase of the general election on May 19.