Bharatiya Janata Party chief Amit Shah on Wednesday blamed West Bengal's ruling Trinamool Congress for violence during his roadshow in Kolkata and accused the Election Commission of 'double standards' for remaining a 'mute spectator' to rigging and violation of the poll code in the state.
He rejected TMC's allegation that BJP workers vandalised a bust of educationist and social reformer Ishwar Chandra Vidyasagar, claiming the regional party was behind it.
The countdown of Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee's days in power will begin on May 23, when general election results will be declared, Shah warned.
At a press conference a day after the violence, he said it would have been difficult for him to survive the attack on his convoy but for the security of Central Reserve Police Force, a central police force.
"I want to tell the Election Commission that it has become a mute spectator to attempts to rig polls in West Bengal. It should immediately intervene. History-sheeters are arrested during elections across the country. In Bengal, they are released after furnishing a bond. What is this double standards from the EC? Why is it silent," he asked.
Shah said election observers in their reports have said polls in the state cannot be conducted fairly till such miscreants are arrested but the EC did not act. It raises a lot of questions on the election watchdog's impartiality, he said.
BJP and TMC supporters clashed on the streets of Kolkata on Tuesday, during a massive roadshow of Shah who had to cut short the event mid-way due to the violence.
The violence apparently began after suspected TMC supporters hurled stones at the BJP convoy from inside the hostel of Vidyasagar College. Furious BJP workers retaliated and during the clash, a bust of the polymath and philosopher inside the campus was damaged.
The election in West Bengals has been marred by incidents of violence and targeted attacks on rival party candidates.
Hitting back at TMC's charge that the BJP was behind the violence, Shah said his party has been contesting elections in every state and is in power in 16, but it is only in West Bengal that violence is being seen.
Shah said Banerjee has issued threats in her speeches but has not been barred from campaigning, alleging that democracy is being throttled in the state.
There is violence in Bengal because the TMC is in power there, he said.
In a separate press conference, Trinamool Congress released a video to claim that ‘BJP goons’ damaged the statue of Vidyasagar and accused the saffron party of violence.
Shah in turn accused TMC 'goons' of vandalising the bust, saying it was done to gain 'sympathy' as the Mamata Banerjee-led party has realised its ‘reverse count’ has begun. He too showed pictures of Tuesday's violence to blame the TMC.
"If she has nothing to hide, I will ask Mamata ji to seek a probe by a neutral agency, by an SIT (special investigation team) constituted by the Kolkata high court or the Supreme Court," he said.
Kolkata was rife with rumours since Tuesday morning that people were inside the college and will instigate riots but police did not act, he said.
BJP leaders and workers were on the road outside the campus and its gates remained closed even during the violence, he said, adding that his party's supporters could not have gone inside to desecrate the statue situation far inside a room.
"All evidence indicate that TMC goons were behind it. The TMC has done this to turn around a losing battle. It has lost in all six phases so far. For vote bank politics, statue of a famous educationist was damaged. The countdown of the TMC rule has begun" Shah said.
The BJP will win more than 23 of the state's 42 seats, he reiterated, claiming that his roadshow attracted an ‘unprecedented’ support as more that 2.5 lakh people joined it, rattling the TMC.
Taking a dig at Banerjee, he said she may be older than him but he has more experience of elections, and that her party allegedly indulging in violence will only result in a bigger BJP victory.
To a question about FIRs registered against him in Bengal, he said it will not scare BJP workers and they will fight the polls with more determination and passion.
Noting that violence had also marred panchayat polls in the state last year, during which over 60 opposition workers were killed, Shah attacked non-TMC opposition parties for not speaking up.
He said their aim is not to save democracy but to remove Prime Minister Narendra Modi.
To another question, he said he did not hope for any action from the EC now as it had not acted on the BJP's demand for re-polls so far during six phases.