Kolkata, May 15 (IANS): The BJP-Trinamool Congress showdown over vandalisation of Bengal Renaissance figure Ishwar Chandra Vidyasagar's bust intensified as West Bengal Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee held a massive protest march in the city on Wednesday.
On a day when Prime Minister Narendra Modi campaigned in the state and targeted Banerjee for "orchestarting atatck on BJP chief Amit Shah", the Trinamool supremo accompanied by intellectuals and commoners, hit the street against "BJP's conspiracy to destroy Bengal's culture and heritage."
Following the vandalism of his statue during Shah's roadshow on Tuesday here, the Bengali polymath has become a poll issue with the BJP and the Trinamool blaming each other for the desecration.
Flanked by party leaders, activists, city intellectuals and thousands of common citizens, Banerjee walked from Gandhi Bhaban in north Kolkata's Beleghata to the iconic five-point crossing in Shyambazar, a distance of over 6km.
Many spontaneously joined the march while thousands more looked on from both sides of the street bringing the busy north Kolkata region to a virtual standstill.
Members of the intellectual community including writers, actors, threatre actors participated in the rally with pictures and banners of famous Bengali icons like Swami Vivekananda, Rabindranath Tagore and Vidyasagar.
"BJP has murdered Vidyasagar yesterday. The Bengali people have hit the streets to revive him and his ideals. We all are together. They (BJP) have come here to do politics without knowing about Bengal's culture," noted author and intellectual Abul Basar said.
"When told Amit Shah has accused Trinamool of vandalising the statue, Basar said "He is lying. Look at Mamata Banerjee. Can you believe she can ever do such things? It is impossible. No one will believe them," he said.
Banerjee walked for nearly two hours at brisk pace with folded hands and occasionally waved at the crowd who raised slogans in favour of Bengal and its ruling Trinamool Congress.
Several people joined in midway as the protest march kept growing.
At the end of the rally Banerjee garlanded the statues of Vidyasagar and Swami Vivekananda in Shyambazar and paid her respect.
The slugfest over the vandalisation also panned out in the national capital with Shah claiming there were three attacks targeting his road show. He also accused Banerjee of conspiring to vandalise Vidyasagar's statue in an effort to gain sympathy.
The Trinamool retaliated with with party MP Derek O'Brien in a press conference releasing videos to establish that "goons of Amit Shah orchestrated the atatck". He also said the party will take the videos to the Election Commission.