West Bengal Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee alleged on Wednesday that she was attacked by “four-five men” in Nandigram, injuring her left leg, hours after she filed nomination from the seat where the BJP has pitted her protege-turned-adversary Suvendu Adhikari.
The incident happened around 6.15 pm when Banerjee was about to leave the Birulia area near Reyapara after praying at a local temple.
“I was standing outside my car with the door open. I was praying from there on seeing a temple. Few people came around my car and pushed the door. The door hit my leg,” she told reporters.
Banerjee, who appeared shaken and in pain, alleged that she was pushed by four-five men while she was trying to get into the car, following which she fell flat on her face.
The chief minister said that her leg got swollen because of the injury and she was feeling feverish, besides having chest pain.
Pointing to her leg, she told reporters, “See how it has swollen.”
“Some people deliberately did it. Of course, it is a conspiracy. There were no local policemen around me, neither the district police superintendent was present at the spot,” she alleged.
The chief minister also has severe pain in the waist, TMC MP Sukhendu Sekhar Ray, who is at present in Nandigram, said.
Banerjee was seen being carried by her security personnel to the backseat of her SUV from the front seat, which she usually occupies during travel, as she was in pain.
A white cloth was also wrapped around her injured leg.
The incident triggered a security scare as the chief minister gets Z-plus protection.
Banerjee, who was supposed to stay the night in Nandigram in the Purba Medinipur district, was rushed back to Kolkata, around 130 km away, through a green corridor.
The chief minister was taken to the state-run SSKM Hospital for treatment where she underwent X-ray imaging.
Later, she was taken to the Bangur Institute of Neurology for an MRI.
The state government constituted a team of five senior doctors to treat Banerjee.
In the team were a cardiologist, an endocrinologist, a general surgery doctor, an orthopedist and a medicine doctor.
“X-ray has been conducted on the chief minister’s left leg. We also wanted to conduct an MRI. After calculating the degree of her injury, the next step of treatment will be decided,” a doctor, who is part of the team treating Banerjee, told PTI.
The chief minister’s nephew and TMC MP Abhishek Banerjee, Rajya Sabha MP Derek O’Brien, and state ministers Partha Chatterjee, Firhad Hakim and Sujit Bose were present at the hospital, besides scores of party supporters who were shouting slogans against the BJP.
Governor Jagdeep Dhakhankhar also visited the hospital but faced “go-back” chants from the TMC supporters.
Following the visit, Dhankhar tweeted that he has sought an update from the director of security and the chief secretary regarding the matter.
“Health Secretary and Director of Hospital urged to take all caution,” he added.
Trinamool Congress supporters took to the streets across the state to protest against the alleged attack, blocking roads, burning tyres and raising slogans blaming the BJP.
Protests were held in different areas of Kolkata, including Chetla and Sovabazar. Besides, demonstrations were also held in Howrah, Bankura, Jalpaiguri, Paschim Bardhaman, Paschim Medinipur and North 24 Parganas, among others.
Banerjee was in Nandigram over the last two days to campaign for the upcoming elections. Earlier in the day, she filed her nominations in Haldia.
From temple-hopping to visiting a holy shrine of the Muslims, Banerjee left no stones unturned in the high-stakes battle for Nandigram where she will be fighting Adhikari.
“I am confident about my victory from the Nandigram assembly seat. I have never returned empty-handed from here,” Banerjee said at one of her campaign rallies in the area.
The TMC leadership claimed that the attack was a well-planned conspiracy to “remove her” from the poll campaign.
“Many people don’t want her to campaign for the elections. They want her to be removed from their path. That is why she has been attacked by goons. People will give a befitting reply,” state minister and senior TMC leader Subrata Mukherjee said.
The BJP alleged that Banerjee was trying to turn a “simple accident” into a “pre-planned conspiracy”, and demanded a CBI investigation.
“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’s national general secretary Kailash Vijayvargiya said.
“Such tactics to gain sympathy are unacceptable. I think the matter should be handed over to the CBI for an investigation,” he added.
State Congress president Adhir Chowdhury said such “tactics to gain sympathy” would not work this time.
“Mamata Banerjee is the police minister of the state and if she is not safe then she should immediately resign from the post,” he said.
CPI(M) candidate from Nandigram Minakshi Mukherjee wished her a speedy recovery, but asserted that “people would not be fooled this time”.
The Election Commission has sought a report from the state police on the alleged attack.
Several leaders from across the country condemned the alleged attack on the chief minister.
Delhi Chief Minister Arvind Kejriwal said that those responsible should be immediately arrested and punished.
Bihar’s opposition leader Tejashwi Yadav said that those responsible should not be spared as he asserted that the West Bengal police is now under the control of the Election Commission.
Samajwadi Party chief Akhilesh Yadav also condemned the incident.
West Bengal will be voting in eight phases, starting March 27. The votes will be counted on May 2.