Agartala, March 9: As statue politics has reared its ugly head, politicians cutting across party lines are busy accusing each other of the countrywide vandalism. However, there is a "new twist" to the recent razing down of the statue of Vladimir Lenin in Tripura's Belonia which kick-started some kind of a competition to demolish and deface statues of eminent historical persons in various parts of the country.
According to senior Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) leader Ram Madhav, no statue in Tripura has been demolished. However, reports contradict the BJP general secretary's tall claims. Along with the 11-feet tall fibreglass statue, one more statue of the Russian revolutionary leader was brought down in Tripura's Sabroom.
In fact, the BJP has come under fire for the demolition of statues in Tripura. It has been alleged that BJP supporters were behind the vandalism as video evidence showcases men in saffron attire used a bulldozer to raze down the Belonia statue of Lenin. The alleged BJP supporters chanted "Bharat Mata ki Jai (Hail Mother India)" during the demolition drive.
In order to distance the party from the ugly episode, Madhav totally denied that such an incident had ever occurred. Madhav, who is one of the BJP's main architects to help the party win elections after elections in the Northeast region (latest being Tripura, Meghalaya and Nagaland), claimed that the statue was a private property. He also asked West Bengal chief minister Mamata Banerjee, who has slammed the BJP for the demolition of statues, to take care of her state first before worrying about the nation.
"No statue was demolished in Tripura. These are all rumours. It was (Lenin's statue) a private property. Those who had installed the statue had removed it. There was no vandalism. Vandalism is happening in West Bengal. Mamata Banerjee should first worry about her state. Afterwards, she can think about the country. (Tripura mein koi murti todhi nahi gayi hai.Yeh dushprachar ho raha hai.Ek private property mein, jinhone murti lagayi unhone hatayi hai.Vandalism nahi hua hai.Vandalism Bengal mein ho raha hai.Mamata ji apne rajya ki chinta karein, desh ki chinta baad mein karein)," Madhav was quoted as saying by ANI.
Tripura mein koi murti todhi nahi gayi hai.Yeh dushprachar ho raha hai.Ek private property mein, jinhone murti lagayi unhone hatayi hai.Vandalism nahi hua hai.Vandalism Bengal mein ho raha hai.Mamata ji apne rajya ki chinta karein, desh ki chinta baad mein karein: Ram Madhav, BJP pic.twitter.com/QVSn3tFZcT— ANI (@ANI) March 9, 2018
Immediately after the statue of Lenin was demolished in Belonia, Madhav posted a tweet to "approve" the vandalism. He said: "People taking down Lenin's statue...not in Russia; it is in Tripura. Chalo Paltai (Let's change)." After facing criticism, Madhav deleted the tweet. He, however, again tweeted to justify the razing down of the statue as it was a "private property".
"That is why no complaint was registered. The CPI-M too didn't register any complaint. Discarding communism, those who erected it themselves decided to remove it," Madhav tweeted.
The officials of Tripura have a different take on the matter. "This is a public property. This was constructed by the municipal council. Funds were given by the government. The municipal council has given intimation to the police and then case was registered," CK Jamatia, South Tripura Collector, told NDTV.
The demolition of Lenin's statues came close on the heels of the BJP's historic win in Tripura recently. The opponents of the Left termed the razing down of the statue of the communist icon in Tripura as symbolic after the Communist Party of India-Marxist (CPI-M)-led Left Front government lost power to the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) in the state elections.
The 2018 Tripura election was an ideological battle between the left and the right. The right emerged triumphant over the left. With the defeat, the curtains came down on the 25-year-old Left regime in Tripura. The Tripura loss was a big blow to the communists across the nation as the state was one of the last two citadels of the Left. An almost diminished Left now holds power only in Kerala.
After Lenin's statues, idols of Periyar EV Ramasamy, Syama Prasad Mukherjee, BR Ambedkar and Mahatma Gandhi were demolished or defaced in various parts of the country.