Kolkata: The Trinamool Congress’ Rajya Sabha MP Sushmita Dev has been attacked with sticks at Tripura’s Amtali Police Station area, around nine kilometres from capital Agartala.
Dev, whose father Santosh Mohan Dev was a Congress legislator from the area, was leading a door-to-door election campaign Friday when her convoy was attacked.
Sources in Trinamool told ThePrint that the MP, her associates and members of I-PAC, the political consultancy group headed by Prashant Kishor, were dragged out of their vehicles, and beaten up on the streets while the vehicles were ransacked.
Around six Trinamool workers and IPAC members sustained grievous injuries, while Sushmita Dev’s received ligament injuries, the sources said.
Talking to ThePrint from the spot, Dev said that at least 20-25 people surrounded her car.
“This looks like a pre-planned attack. We were around 12 to 14 people, doing a small door-to-door campaign for the upcoming municipal elections in Tripura in November. Our car is a well-advertised one, with Mamata Banerjee’s pictures and Trinamool’s logo,” Dev said.
“A group of 25 to 30 men suddenly surrounded our car and started hitting it; they smashed the car’s windshield, and dragged my associates out of the car. They snatched my bag, threw my phone on the streets. This attack went on for 30 to 40 minutes, while a couple of uniformed persons stood silent at the spot. I ran towards the police station to save myself. I never witnessed political violence so closely. It was terrible.”
She added that the police did nothing to intervene. “The police station is located 500 m from the spot, but there was no intervention,” Dev said. “This looks like state-backed violence and was pre-planned to intimidate and bully the Trinamool Congress.”
Tripura made it to the news last month when political violence rocked the state as CPI(M) officers, their vehicles were set on fire.
Dev said that the TMC is now a target as the BJP is worried by its rise.
“The CPM is now nowhere to be seen, and Congress is completely an inconsequential force. The BJP understands that Trinamool is the only formidable Opposition and that is why they are feeling insecure,” the MP said.
“But, we are not Congress, we are the Trinamool Congress. I have spoken to our national general secretary Abhishek, who asked me to stay strong. Tomorrow we will organise a bigger agitation, as a team including ministers and MPs will be here from Kolkata.”
Tripura’s political violence
Trinamool Congress is a new entrant in the north-eastern state, but Tripura has a history of witnessing politically charged elections.
In 2019, the ruling BJP won almost 86 per cent seats uncontested in the panchayat elections. The state has around 6,100 panchayat seats, but the CPI(M) and Congress filed nominations in around 10 per cent of the total seats, alleging intimidation by ‘armed BJP gangs’.
The state is due for its municipal polls at the end of November and assembly elections, within the next year-and-a-half.
The Trinamool Congress, which is on an expansion mode, has made its entry with Abhishek Banerjee as its in charge.
According to Sushmita Dev, the party will contest all seats in the upcoming municipal elections.
(Edited by Arun Prashanth)