Bengal Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee said she was attacked today while in Nandigram, where she had gone to file her nomination for the coming assembly elections. The Chief Minister said she was pushed by four or five people against her car and had the door shut on her at a time when there was no police personnel around her.
Sukhendu Sekhar Ray, Trinamool MP (currently in Nandigram) said: “At about 6.15 pm, when she was about to leave Birulia Anchal after performing Puja in a temple, a few unknown persons pushed her to the car and forcibly shut the door, as a result of which she sustained injuries in her left leg and suffered severe pain in the waist.”
The incident occurred at Birulia Anchal Market, 5 km from Reyapara, where Ms Banerjee stopped to talk to the media about the incident.
The Chief Minister told reporters that she was pushed by four or five men while she was trying to get into her car. Pointing to her leg, she added, “See how it is swelling up”. Asked if it was a planned attack, she said, “Of course it is a conspiracy… there were no policemen around me”.
Even as she was speaking, she seemed to be in physical distress. After she complained of worsening pain in her back and waist, her personal security guards lifted her and placed her on the backseat of her vehicle.
The 66-year-old — who has sustained many an injury earlier, most notably in 1991 when she was attacked by CPM goons — appeared pale, visibly shaken and in much pain.
Ms Banerjee — who filed her nomination today and was expected to spend the night in Nandigram — returned immediately to Kolkata, around 130 km away. A green corridor was created for fast access to the SSKM Hospital, where she was admitted.
The Chief Minister underwent a battery of tests including neurological tests and an X-ray of her left leg. Late in the night, she was sent to the Bangur Institute of Neurosciences at SSKM for an MRI. According to sources, she has sustained injuries on lower limbs which are swollen and painful.
She has been administered strong pain killers.
The attack came a day after the Election Commission replaced the Director General of Bengal Police, Mr Virender, amid concerns of violence voiced the loudest by the BJP. An IPS officer of the 1987 batch, P Nirajnayan, has been named the new police chief.
The Commission has asked the Chief Secretary for a report on the attack on the Chief Minister who has Z-Plus security. The report has to be submitted by Friday.
Nandigram will be the biggest battleground in the state elections that begin by the end of this month. The Chief Minister has been challenged by her erstwhile aide Suvendu Adhikari, who is now representing the BJP.
Dubbed “outsider” by the supporters of Mr Adhikari — who won the Nandigram seat in 2016 — she had been campaigning in the area that helped her come to power in 2011 following the agitation against farmland acquisition.
The BJP, which had blamed the Trinamool after its chief JP Nadda’s convoy came under attack in Bengal in December, called today’s incident a political stunt by the ruling party.
“Is it Taliban that her convoy was attacked? Huge police force accompanies her. Who can get near her?” said state BJP vice-president Arjun Singh. “Four IPS officers are her security in-charge and must be suspended. Attackers don’t appear out of nowhere, they have to be nabbed… She did drama for sympathy,” he added.
“It can happen that she met with an accident but to claim that she was deliberately pushed is not acceptable. She has a lot of security personnel guarding her round the clock,” BJP national general secretary Kailash Vijayvargiya told news agency PTI.
Elections in Bengal, set to be a stiff contest between the Trinamool and the BJP, will be held in eight phases, beginning with polling for 30 seats on March 27. The counting of votes will be held on May 2.