A day after he was attacked in a public meeting at Chandipur in East Midnapore district, Mamata Banerjee’s nephew and Trinamool Congress MP Abhishek Banerjee today said he had forgiven the perpetrator and wished him early recovery.
“At a personal level, however, let me forgive the perpetrator and wish him early recovery. Today is a new day, let us look ahead,” he said in his Facebook post.
Banerjee also urged TMC workers to “maintain peace and harmony throughout the state and be restrained in their actions”.
“It has been about 24 hours since yesterday’s incident. What happened in Chandipur is now the subject of a police enquiry. So let me restrain myself from making any comment that will pre-judge the enquiry,” he said.
“My beliefs and my will to work will not lessen because of what happened. Whoever is behind this act of cowardice has no idea what we are made of. I am now doubly committed to working for the people and doing my very best for them,” he said.
A youth on the pretext of taking photographs on his cell phone slapped Banerjee after climbing up to the stage at a rally at Chandipur yesterday. TMC workers present on the stage caught the youth and beat him up. He has been admitted to a hospital.
Midnapore district police had said that the youth identified as Debasis Acharya, a resident of Tamluk, was admitted to Tamluk hospital in a critical condition after he was caught and beaten up by TMC workers.
Apparently pointing finger at the BJP, TMC Rajya Sabha member Derek O’ Brien described the incident as a “disgrace to the nation”.
“This has been almost a pattern in the last six or seven months in which political parties talk about digital India, but what they are actually trying to do is create a divided India, a destructive India. And this can never happen in Bengal because for years and centuries people from all communities have lived in peace and harmony here,” Derek told reporters at the Trinamool Bhavan here.
“The unfortunate nasty incident was not only a disgrace to politics, but also a disgrace to the nation because a young man early in his political career was stopped by somebody from what he was trying to do in a honest, transparent way,” he said.
Demanding a transparent probe into the incident, party leader and state Panchayat Minister Subrata Mukherjee described the incident as a “challenge” for his party.
He said that the beating up of the youth was ‘nothing’ compared to the gravity of what he did and recalled incidents in which people were lynched after former Prime Minister Indira Gandhi was shot.
“The reaction (after the slap) is merely nothing. It was a natural one, though it would have been good if it had not happened. But we must remember that after Indira Gandhi was shot dead there were so many incidents of lynching… In this case that has not happened and even he (the accused) has not died,” he stated.
Mukherjee said that the TMC would not act ‘hastily’ after the incident and would rather “fight politically”.
TMC general-secretary Partha Chatterjee said that the party would hold statewide rallies to protest against the incident.
“We have decided to protest against the attack on our MP Abhishek Banerjee. We will hold rallies all over the state. Today there has been rallies in different parts of the state and even tomorrow there will be rallies in every district and every block of the state. We invite people from all sections to participate,” Chatterjee said.
He, however, assured people that party workers would not block roads or railways while holding the rallies causing inconvenience to common people.
“We don’t want our party workers to block roads and railway tracks to inconvenience common man,” he said.
State Urban Development Minister Firhad Hakim dismissed the suggestion that the incident was a result of intra-party feud, claiming that the assaulter did not belong to the TMC and held the ‘opposition political parties’ and a ‘section of media’ responsible.