'Immobilised' Mamata calls for peace as TMC-BJP clash over attack on didi

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(Eds: Clubs related stories) Kolkata/Nandigram, Mar 11 (PTI) She lay on a hospital bed, her left foot in plaster cast strung to an iron stand, but an 'immobilised' Mamata Banerjee Thursday had West Bengal in ferment as supporters of her ruling TMC and rival BJP clashed over the alleged attack on her at Nandigram the day before.

The BJP demanded a CBI inquiry over the alleged assault to ascertain if the incident was 'staged', while a high-level TMC delegation met the Chief Electoral Officer of the state and insisted the Election Commission cannot absolve itself of culpability, insisting that maintaining law and order was the EC's responsibility once the election has been announced.

Meanwhile, a case has been registered at Nandigram over the alleged attack under IPC sections 341 (punishment for wrongful restraint) and 323 (punishment for voluntarily causing hurt), a senior police officer of the Purba Medinipur district said.

Banerjee, admitted to Kolkata's SSKM Hospital following the incident, is 'stable' but has pain in her injured leg, frontal head, and also has low sodium concentration in blood.

'The chief minister has severe bony injuries in her left ankle and foot, besides injuries in right shoulder, forearm and neck. She is stable now but is having severe pain in the injured leg,' a senior doctor at the state-run SSKM Hospital said.

'The board of doctors evaluated her condition in the afternoon and have decided to conduct a further radiological investigation to exclude any pathology arising out of the the post-traumatic syndrome,' he said.

The doctors, however, insisted that the 66-year-old leader will not require a surgery.

Enraged over the alleged assault on their leader in Nandigram, where she is crossing swords with her former aide Suvendu Adhikari of the BJP, Trinamool Congress workers took out protest rallies in several districts including parts of Kolkata, North 24 Parganas, Hooghly, Howrah, Birbhum, South 24 Parganas and Jalpaiguri.

A scuffle broke out between the Trinamool Congress activists and a group of BJP workers in the Birulia area this morning but the situation was soon brought under control, police said.

Arguably fighting its toughest election since Banerjee uprooted the Left rule in 2011, a TMC delegation met the Chief Electoral Officer and blamed the Election Commission for the fiasco.

It insisted that giving protection to Banerjee was the EC's responsibility since the law and order machinery got arrogated to the central poll panel once a state assembly poll has been announced.

Claiming that the attack was a 'deep-rooted conspiracy to take the life of TMC supremo', the TMC leaders said anti- social elements have been mobilised from the neighbouring states by the BJP in Nandigram to unleash violence.

Accusing the EC of acting 'as per orders' of the BJP leaders, the TMC delegation, after meeting the EC officials here, alleged that the Commission did nothing to prevent the attack despite reports of a possible asault on her.

'The law and order situation in Bengal was good. But, after the announcement of elections, law and order has become EC's responsibility.

'The EC removed DGP of the state police, and the very next day she was attacked,' TMC secretary-general Partha Chatterjee said.

West Bengal BJP chief Dilip Ghosh demanded a CBI probe in the incident, saying it needs to be seen whether the incident was a 'well-scripted drama' to garner sympathy votes.

Speaking to reporters, Ghosh said that the people of the state have seen such 'drama' earlier as well.

'It needs to be probed what actually happened. How a Z-plus protectee gets attacked is a matter that has to be looked into. The state should order a CBI probe to bring out the truth,' he said.

A team of BJP leaders including former Tripura and Meghalaya governor Tathagata Roy and state party spokesperson Samik Bhattacharya went to the SSKM Hospital, where Banerjee is undergoing treatment, but could not personally meet her.

'We conveyed our concern to the TMC leaders present, including minister Arup Biswas, and wished the chief minister a speedy recovery,' Bhattacharya said.

The TMC, meanwhile, postponed the release of its election manifesto, scheduled for Thursday, following the incident.

Meanwhile, Banerjee released a video message from her hospital bed, urging her supporters to be calm and maintain peace.

'I would appeal to my party cadres, supporters, activists and common people to maintain peace and calm. It is true that I was badly hurt last night and felt severe pain in the chest and head. The doctors are looking after me,' she said.

'I appeal to everyone to maintain peace. I hope to be back on the field in the next few days,' Banerjee said. PTI PTI PNT/SCH SOM SNS SK SK