Mamata Banerjee, sources said, asked Rajnath Singh to "control his party", the BJP
Bengal Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee had an angry exchange with Union home minister Rajnath Singh today, sources said, when he called her about this afternoon's violence at a town near Kolkata after a rally by BJP chief Amit Shah. Ms Banerjee, sources said, had asked the minister to "control his party" which was trying to "provoke trouble in peaceful Bengal", sources said.
Kanthi, a town 150 km from Kolkata turned into a battlefield this afternoon, minutes after Amit Shah's rally ended. Buses were stoned, motorcycles set ablaze and Trinamool offices were attacked. Till late in the evening, traffic on a state highway was paralysed as reports of arson kept pouring in. A huge police force had to be deployed to bring the situation under control.
Trinamool and the BJP have levelled tit-for-tat allegations of violence against each other. Trinamool leaders have claimed the attack was pre-planned, that the BJP supporters had come with bricks and lathis and ransacked their own vehicles. The BJP's Sambit Patra hit back, saying "TMC has now become Talibani Mamatar Karmo".
Later in the evening, Mr Singh called up the Chief Minister and expressed serious concern over the violence. He asked for action against those responsible and sought a detailed report from the state government within 24 hours.
Ms Banerjee had lashed out in response. "Please control your leaders and supporters," sources quoted her as telling the home minister.
At his rally, Mr Shah — who has set his party a target of 23 of the 42 seats in the state — hit out at Ms Banerjee, alluding to the ponzi scam in Bengal and promising that he would make the perpetrators "vomit out" every rupee they stole from the thousands of unsuspecting depositors.
He also mocked the Chief Minister, alleging that she would not take action against "chit-fund wallahs" who paid crores for her paintings.