On July 21st, the ruling Trinamool Congress (TMC) announced a protest against Bhartiya Janata Party (BJP) leaders in West Bengal by ‘gheraoing’ their homes on August 5. The announcement of the said ‘peaceful’ gherao was made by TMC general secretary Abhishek Banerjee against the alleged delay in releasing funds for the state.
Banerjee, speaking at the TMC’s annual Martyrs’Day event in Kolkata on July 21st, urged party workers in Bengal to peacefully gherao the homes of BJP workers on August 5 from 10 a.m. to 6 p.m.
Banerjee further stated that TMC leaders would head to Delhi to stage a large protest against the BJP’s decision to ‘halt’ state funding.
“I announce from here with the permission of our leader, Mamata Banerjee,” he remarked. The way BJP is stopping our funds (to the state) – we will go to Delhi on 2nd October, on the day of Gandhi Jayanti…On 5th August, we will gherao all BJP leaders’ houses peacefully.”
I announce from here after taking the permission of our leader Mamata Banerjee. The way BJP is stopping our funds (to the state) – we will go to Delhi on 2nd October, on the day of Gandhi Jayanti…On 5th August, we will gherao all BJP leaders’ houses peacefully: TMC MP Abhishek… pic.twitter.com/cN7rD9ItwX
— ANI (@ANI) July 21, 2023
Abhishek Banerjee alleged that the BJP-led Central government has stopped MNERGA funds due to their ‘vendetta politics’. He further announced that a protest will be staged at Delhi’s Krishi Bhavan on Gandhi Jayanti (October 2). CM Mamata Banerjee also reiterated her nephew’s announcement.
It is the TMC’s first significant political maneuver against the BJP after it recently joined Indian National Developmental Inclusive Alliance or I.N.D.I.A. to contest against NDA in the upcoming Lok Sabha elections 2024.
BJP hits back
The TMC’s planned protest announcement did not sit well with the BJP, as party leader Suvendu Adhikari filed a complaint at Hare Street police station against CM Mamata Banerjee and Abhishek Banerjee. In his complaint, Leader of the Opposition (LoP) Suvendu Adhikari said that TMC MP Abhishek Banerjee hurled threats and incited people to gherao homes of the BJP leaders. He went on to assert that CM Mamata Banerjee illegally validated Abhishek Banerjee’s threats as it would breach security protocol as several BJP leaders, including Adhikari, get security cover from the CRPF/CISF etc.
Moreover, Adhikari expressed his shock over how the TMC leaders delivered their speeches on July 21st, as well as the absolute lack of respect for the leaders of the Opposition party, as demonstrated by Abhishek Banerjee and Mamata Banerjee.
“They repeatedly called on their supporters to wrongfully restrain and wrongfully confine BJP leaders, thereby making it abundantly clear that their choice of words was deliberate and well thought out,” Adhikari complained.
While peacefully protesting against political leaders and governments over certain issues is absolutely legal, however, targeting the residences of political leaders where they reside with their families is not lawful. Looking at the track record of violence in West Bengal as recently seen during the panchayat elections, a ‘peaceful’ protest is highly unlikely and would pose a threat to the safety of BJP leaders and their families.
BJP’s Suvendu Adhikari earlier said that TMC’s upcoming gherao protests are endangering fundamental rights. He said that moving in and stepping out of one’s house is a constitutional right and if TMC violates this fundamental right his party will not let the TMC MPs enter the parliament.