NEW DELHI, Jan 29: The offensive remarks by the West Bengal BJP leader Suvendu Adhikari, the leader of the opposition in the State Assembly, against the former Congress president Rahul Gandhi has sparked a huge political row with both the Congress and the Trinamool Congress launching an offensive against the BJP for harbouring such “vile” leaders in the party.
Mr Adhikari’s derogatory remark against Mr Gandhi also provided an opportunity to the ruling TMC to take a pot shot at the state Congress leaders amid a tussle over seat-sharing for the Lok Sabha polls accusing them of acting like “BJP’s Pimps.”
This comes at a time when the Rahul Gandhi-led “Bharat Jodo Nyaya Yatra” is moving through the eastern parts of the country. The Yatra, which began at Manipur on January 14, has passed through the Northeast before entering Bengal on Thursday. After a two-day break, it resumed on Monday and reached Bihar. It is scheduled to re-enter Bengal later this week.
Responding to a query on the Yatra’s impact, Mr Adhikari used derogatory remark for Mr Gandhi to imply that he is a fool. He then referred to Mr Gandhi’s ‘coal on the stove’ remark that was earlier mocked by Assam Chief Minister Himanta Biswa Sarma. “Who is Rahul Gandhi. He says you should heat tea after putting coal on a stove. Coal on a stove? I have never heard anything like this,” he said.
“Who is Rahul Gandhi? You have been asking me questions about him for the last four days. He is a haridas pal (useless person – an expletive in Bengali). He recently made a comment that you can use coal on a stove to make tea. When a person has no sense then why should people count on him? His party is insignificant in West Bengal.”
The Congress and TMC were quick to condemn Adhikari’s words, lashing out against his “arrogance” and the BJP’s “toxic culture”. The Congress has also lodged a formal complaint against him at Siliguri police station in north Bengal.
Mr Gandhi made the remark at a rally in Assam’s Dhubri when he was targeting Mr Sarma over corruption. Alleging that the Assam Chief Minister is the country’s most corrupt Chief Minister and has a cut in every business, including coal and tea, Mr Gandhi said, “When you wake up in the morning and put coal on the stove to prepare tea, the profit from coal goes to your Chief Minister. The tea which you drink, its plantations and gardens belong to your chief minister.”
Sharing a video clip of Mr Adhikari’s remark, Trinamool leader and spokesperson Kunal Ghosh posted on X, “What language is the traitor using to target Rahul Gandhi. Such uncouth behaviour in politics must stop. How low will state Congress leaders acting as BJP’s pimps stoop? Will you take this lying down? Suvendu’s politics has no shame now. I protest this sick language.”
The “traitor” reference is Trinamool’s signature barb at Mr Adhikari, once a trusted lieutenant of party supremo Mamata Banerjee who then switched to the BJP and became an arch-rival.
The state Congress leader Soumya Aich Roy said it was unbecoming of a person holding a constitutional post to use such language against a politician. “Suvendu Adhikari is the Leader of the Opposition in the West Bengal Assembly. Therefore he holds a constitutional post. How can a person holding such a post speak in such language,” Roy asked.
“This goes to show the kind of upbringing he had. The BJP is known for using offensive and derogatory language against political leaders. We strongly condemn the use of such language against our leader. If an MP used such words in Parliament, he would have been suspended,” said the Congress leader.
TMC leaders too took to social media to condemn Adhikari’s remarks. State minister Shashi Panja posted on X, “@SuvenduWB, such offensive language speaks volume about your objectionable character! Derogatory remarks exposes a legacy tainted with arrogance and hooliganism in your party. Mr Adhikari, you better not defile Bengal’s culture by spitting such vulgar terms!”
In a similar post, senior TMC leader Aroop Biswas said, “@SuvenduWB shamelessly uses offensive language! If these are the kinds of crass individuals that BJP harbours, they are utterly incompatible with Bengal’s rich culture. While BJP may embrace such rugged politicians, we will never let such a toxic culture pollute our soil!”
The Trinamool leader’s remark comes against the backdrop of the tug-of-war between his party and the Congress over seat-sharing in INDIA alliance. Virtually pulling the plug on an alliance in Bengal, Ms Banerjee last week said her party will contest the Lok Sabha polls alone and any decision on an alliance will be taken after the election. The Congress has since been in damage control mode and has said INDIA bloc cannot be imagined without Ms Banerjee.
The Trinamool leadership has repeatedly blamed the local Congress unit, helmed by the party’s Lok Sabha leader Adhir Ranjan Chowdhury, for the impasse over seat-sharing. The party has, in the past, also accused Mr Chowdhury of being a “BJP agent.”
Mr Chowdhury has been fiercely critical of Ms Banerjee, calling her an “opportunist” and rejecting the TMC’s offer of two seats as part of the seat-sharing arrangement. The Trinamool maintains that it has been quite generous in its offer and criticised the Congress for the delay in reaching an understanding.