NEW DELHI, May 14
BJP chief Amit Shah's mega rally in Kolkata, that wowed residents with scale and street-party air, ran into trouble later this evening.
Clashes broke out and the police stepped in and used batons on the crowds. Videos from the spot showed chaotic scenes -- people dressed in saffron throwing stones as others run helter-skelter.
A motorcycle parked on the roadside was set on fire outside the north Kolkata's Vivekananda College. The statue of Iswar Chandra Vidyasagar - a 19th century educationist and social reformer - on the college premises was vandalised.
It is not yet known what triggered the violence. Quoting unnamed officials, news agency Press Trust of India reported that student supporters of the BJP had clashed with the Left Front supporters as the convoy passed the Calcutta University on College Street.
The Mamata Banerjee Government had allegedly withheld permission for a rally led by Amit Shah in the Jadhavpur constituency yesterday. No permission was granted either for the landing of his chopper.
Supporters of the BJP and the ruling Trinamool Congress had clashed at the venue of the cancelled event.
Amit Shah had taken on the Chief Minister, alleging that she was trying to protect her nephew, who was contesting this time from one of the areas he was supposed to visit.
Last year, the Government had also withheld permission for three BJP rath yatras in the State on grounds of law and order. Its decision was accepted by the Supreme Court at a hearing in January.
Today's road show - called the "Save Republic rally" --- had started around 4.30 pm from Esplanade in central Kolkata.
It went at a leisurely pace through roads lined with saffron ballons and BJP flags, artistes dressed as the Lord Ram and Lakshman stood on trucks as others, dressed as Hanumans, milled around or danced to music - a 30-feet column of people that walked along the BJP chief's cavalcade.
Mr Shah, sporting a pink jacket, waved from the roof of a crawling vehicle. Often, he was seen showering marigold petals on the people -- it was heard that 10,000 kg of marigold petals had been arranged for the event.
Seasoned journalists said such a sight had never been seen in the city.
The Chief Minister mocked the BJP chief, saying, "Babu has done a michil (rally) in Kolkata -- with people from Jharkhand, Bihar and Uttar Pradesh." NDTV