Where Tripura Lenin Statue Stood, Theories On Vandalism Also Pulled Down

Not fringe elements, says CPM, but planned message sent out with bulldozer.

Agartala:  Two statues of Lenin pulled down in two south Tripura towns 50 km away, Belonia and Sabroom, set off a string of statue vandalism this week across the country, amid concern that the tit-for-tat could get out of hand. This was one of the reasons for the Home Ministry to scramble into action and send out two advisories within a gap of hours to nudge states to deal sternly with such vandals.

Back in the tiny town of Belonia near Tripura’s border with Bangladesh, NDTV tried to sift through the many versions of the 11-feet tall fibre glass statute being toppled over to figure what had happened.

The CPM, which ruled the state for 25 years, and its arch-rival in Bengal, the Trinamool Congress, had blamed the BJP for the incident.

Tripura BJP spokesperson Mrinal Kanti Deb, in turn, had blamed CPM cadres. “They are all underground cadres of the CPM. Those who did this should be strictly punished,” he said this week, according to news agency Press Trust of India.

That version has changed.

Arun Chandra Bhowmik, Belonia’s newly-elected legislator from the BJP, says he wasn’t there when the incident took place.

“Our local leaders had taken out a victory rally and after they rally when others went home, some people who might be fringe elements had reacted this way” he told NDTV.

Not fringe elements, says CPM, but planned message sent out with bulldozer.

Jitendra Chaudhury, the CPM’s Lok Sabha member from East Tripura, said the video was taken by a BJP supporter and “proudly uploaded on social media and the entire world saw what they did. They chanted Bharat Mata ki Jai… like it was during fall of Berlin Wall.”

Tripura Governor Tathagata Roy also tweeted in support of pulling down Lenin’s statue; Ram Madhav tweeted hailing the act, then deleted it.

But Ram Madhav – a BJP strategist also seen as the architect of the party’s victory in Tripura that PM Modi has hailed as “epoch-making one” – suggested that the Lenin statute was erected by private people, not by the municipal body or the government”.

“That is why no complaint registered by either. CPM too didn’t register any complaint. Discarding communism, those who erected it themselves decided to remove it,” Ram Madhav tweeted, a post that was seen to be an explanation for razing the statute to the ground.

Belonia’s administrative heads insisted that Ram Madhav had probably not been correctly informed.

“This is a public property. This was constructed by municipal council, constructed from government funds… The municipal council has gave Intimation to police and then case was registered,” CK Jamatia, South Tripura Collector, told NDTV.

The district’s police chief Ipper Monchak said the police had immediately arrested the driver and seized the excavator.

BJP supporters in Belonia hint that they were only following in the footsteps of the Left parties that had been in power for more than two decades.

“In 1993, the Left came and till 2018, it has been 25 years, When they came to power they broke several offices of Congress, broke statues of ex-prime minister Indira and Rajiv Gandhi,” said Raju Nath, the BJP’s district secretary.