Kolkata (IANS): An unidentified youth slapped Trinamool Congress MP Abhishek Banerjee, the nephew of West Bengal Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee, when he was addressing a public meeting in East Midnapore district Sunday.
The party claimed it could be a planned attack on the life of Banerjee, widely perceived as his aunt’s political heir. The opposition condemned the incident, but said it pointed to the poor state of law and order in the state.
The incident led to chaos as party workers thrashed the attacker severely and later went on rampage, targeting policemen and media personnel at the meeting convened by the Trinamool Youth Congress (TYC) in Chandipur.
Taking security personnel and party workers unawares, the youth mounted the dais while seemingly clicking photos on his mobile phone and came close to Banerjee.
Before anyone could react, the attacker – donning a cap – slapped the leader on the face soon after he had started his speech. Taken aback, Banerjee moved back, and the youth’s second attempt to hit him did not succeed.
The TYC workers and leaders on the dais sprung into action, caught hold of the youth and started beating him up after pinning him on to the ground.
He was then taken below the stage and thrashed mercilessly by the enraged party workers. The seriously-injured youth has been hospitalised.
Abhishek, MP from Diamond Harbour, heads the TYC.
Trinamool spokesperson and Rajya Sabha MP Derek O’Brien later trmed the incident as “unfortunate”, but claimed it “may have been a plan to attack our MP Abhishek Banerjee & threaten his life”.
“Now, it is upto the administration to inquire into the matter and the law to take its course,” O’Brien tweeted.
At the venue, TYC workers turned their wrath on police and media personnel. Several policemen sustained injuries, while the representative of an electronic channel had to be rushed to the hospital after he was beaten up with bamboo canes. His camera was also broken into pieces.
Later, Trinamool workers put up a road blockade.
Communist Party of India-Marxist state secretariat member Rabin Deb said the attack was “condemnable” but demonstrated the conditions of the state.
“But when even an MP can be slapped like this, it only proves the anarchy prevailing in the state.
“The opposition workers and leaders have been under attack from the Trinamool since the party came to power. Many of our cadres are homeless, driven away from their villages. Now even the Trinamool leaders are at the wrong end of violence,” said Deb.
Bharatiya Janata Party state president Rahul Sinha said his party did not support attack on any leader, but the incident seemed to be the outcome of the Trinamool’s factional feud.
“Or else, the attacker could be one who has suffered due to the Saradha chit fund scam. But the incident has proved the lack of security in the state and that law and order has become brittle.
He also criticised the way the youth was thrashed by Trinamool workers.
“The beating up of media persons only shows the Trinamool’s attempts to curb the rights of the media,” said Sinha.
Congress leader Abdul Mannan said the Trinamool is paying the price for introducing the culture of violence and verbal abuse.
“Abhishek’s aunt has in the past tarred faces of policemen, and threatened to beat them up. She also regularly abuseS the media and even the prime minister,” said Mannan.