West Bengal Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee led a huge roadshow in Kolkata on Sunday, four days after she was injured while campaigning in Nandigram.
Accompanied by Trinamool Congress leaders, the 66-year-old was seen greeting the crowd with folded hands, with security personnel pushing her wheelchair.
It was her first public meeting since the Nandigram incident, when she injured her left leg and waist. The Trinamool had alleged that the CM was attacked by unknown people – a charge shot down by the Election Commission of India on Sunday.
The CM joined the 5-kilometre roadshow from Mayo Road to Hazra More as part of Nandigram Diwas, to commemorate the killing of 14 villagers in police firing during the anti-land acquisition protest on March 14, 2007. The agitation propelled Banerjee to power in the state.
“I’m still in a lot of pain, but I feel the pain of my people even more,” Banerjee tweeted ahead of the rally.
Banerjee was admitted to a hospital in Kolkata following the incident on March 10. She was discharged two days later.
The CM initially alleged that she had been attacked by “four-five” people. In a subsequent video message from the hospital, she said she was injured in a crowd surge. The Trinamool repeated the allegations of conspiracy in a memorandum to the EC, which sought a report from state observers and the chief secretary. On Sunday the EC ruled out any conspiracy.
Meanwhile, BJP’s Suvendu Adhikari on Sunday criticised his former party, the TMC, calling its leaders “opportunists” who had given promotions to the officers responsible for the Nandigram police firing.
Without naming Banerjee, Adhikari, who is standing against her in Nandigram, said those who had forgotten Nandigram were now coming to seek votes.
“Fourteen people were martyred in police firing in 2007. I have been coming here every year since 2008 to pay tribute to the sacrifices made by the people of Nandigram.
“Whether it is an election season or not, it hardly matters to me, unlike the opportunists who are now coming to this place,” Adhikari said.
“It is ironic that those who have given promotions to police officers responsible for the Nandigram massacre are now celebrating Nandigram Divas. The TMC has also inducted some of these police officers into their party after their retirement. Don’t cast a single vote in their favour who have betrayed and insulted you all.”
Adhikari laudedi the BJP’s role in the Nandigram movement. “The Nandigram movement would have never gained national importance had the BJP not raised it in the Parliament,” he said. “The TMC managed to enter Nandigram during those days because the then leader of opposition in Lok Sabha, Lal Krishna Advani, first entered the area after breaking through the barricades erected by the [ruling] CPI (M),” he said.
“Some people may be ungrateful but I am not,” Adhikari, who joined the BJP in December last year, said.
Bengal will vote in eight rounds starting March 27 and the results will be declared on May 2.