A fresh political row has erupted in West Bengal over Bharatiya Janata Party national vice-president Dilip Ghosh's alleged unsavoury remarks about West Bengal Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee, with the Trinamool Congress seeking his arrest and unconditional apology.
A TMC delegation, during the day, met Governor Jagdeep Dhankhar at Raj Bhavan and urged him to condemn the remarks made against Banerjee.
During a session at the 'India Today Conclave East', Ghosh had allegedly made derogatory remarks about Banerjee's family. He did so while referring to the TMC supremo's "Bangla nijer Meye ke chai" (Daughter of Bengal) campaign during Bengal assembly polls and her subsequent visit to Goa, where she claimed to have felt affinity towards the coastal state.
Under fire over the comments, Ghosh later clarified that he was trying to lay bare the TMC's ”politics of opportunism”.
"She is saying one thing in Bengal and something completely different in another part of the country. I am not withdrawing my comments and neither do I regret making them. The TMC has now complained about it to the governor, the same person they abuse regularly. This is political opportunism," Ghosh said.
The state BJP leadership, on its part, insisted that it was not in favour of personal attacks, which is the "hallmark of the TMC", but if anyone was hurt by any comment of Ghosh, that was ”unintended”.
Led by state minister Bratya Basu and TMC MP Kakoli Ghosh Dastidar, the TMC delegation that met the governor said it requested Raj Bhavan occupant to ensure strict punishment for Ghosh
"We have requested the governor to condemn the remarks. On various occasions, we have seen him actively calling out remarks of others. We hope that on this occasion, too, he will do the same. Steps must be taken to ensure strictest punishment for the BJP leader," Ghosh Dastidar said.
She claimed that the governor promised to look into the matter.
Dhankhar, later in the day, tweeted that the delegation was given assurance the matter would be taken up for consideration.
”Delegation @AITCofficial sought intervention at remarks made against Hon'ble CM was assured of consideration. Indicated to delegation concerns at worrisome Constitutional transgressions, insensitive stance towards human rights and need for working in tandem for public good,” he wrote.
The ruling party of Bengal further sought legal action against Ghosh.
"We want Dilip Ghosh to be arrested immediately. Such remarks have no place in a civilised society," TMC state general secretary Kunal Ghosh said.
Expressing shock over the utterances of the former state BJP president at the conclave, TMC MP Abhishek Banerjee had on Wednesday sought the intervention of Prime Minister Narendra Modi.
"Outrageous. PM @narendramodi, it is about time to get this loose tongue arrested! Is this how @BJP4India leaders talk about the only sitting woman chief minister of the nation?" he tweeted.
The saffron party said that its national vice-president did not intend to launch a personal attack on the chief minister.
Asked to comment over the row, BJP state spokesperson Samik Bhattacharya told PTI, "The BJP has never made any personal attack on any individual, this is not the culture of BJP. It is the TMC that had made objectionable comments against our national president, the home minister and prime minister.
"What we understand is that Ghosh gave indications about the inconsistent political stance of the TMC supremo all through her political career, and her opportunistic politics. He did not intend to attack her personally. If the TMC and Banerjee are hurt, however, we can say that it was unintended," Bhattacharya added.
Slamming both the parties, the CPI-M, meanwhile, contended that the country was facing several ”serious issues”, but the TMC and the BJP are busy getting back at each other.
CPI-M central committee member and former MLA Sujan Chakraborty said, "This country is facing so many problems, but neither the TMC nor BJP seem to be concerned about addressing them."
Asked about Ghosh's remarks, he said such ”cheap comments don't deserve any response”.