Union Minister Babul Supriyo on Monday distanced himself and the Bharatiya Janata Party from state president Dilip Gosh's controversial remark of shooting down those involved in damaging public property in West Bengal and said that it was 'very irresponsible' for him to have uttered that.
West Bengal BJP president Ghosh had earlier said that "anti-CAA protesters were shot like dogs in BJP-ruled states", provoking criticism from political rivals and his own partymen.
"BJP, as a party has nothing to do with what a DIlipGhosh may hv said•It is a figment of his imagination&BJP Govts in UP, Assam hv NEVER EVER resorted to shooting people for whatever reason whatsoever•Very irresponsible of DilipDa to hv said what he said (sic)," he tweeted.
Addressing a public meeting in Nadia district on Sunday, Ghosh had slammed Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee "for not opening fire and ordering lathicharge" on those destroying public property during the anti-Citizenship (Amendment) Act (CAA) protests in the state in December.
"Didi's police didn't take action against those who destroyed public property as they are her voters. Our governments in Uttar Pradesh, Assam and Karnataka shot these people like dogs," Ghosh had said.
Following Supriyo's tweet, Dilip Ghosh however stuck to his comment.
"Let anyone say what they want, I am giving my comments on basis of my party’s views," he was quoted as saying by the Free Press Journal's Prema Rajaram.
The Trinamool Congress leadership came down heavily on Ghosh and said the comments reflected the mindset of BJP that brooks no dissent.
"The comments reflect the mindset of the BJP. This is not an isolated statement of Dilip Ghosh. This the mindset and agenda of the BJP....they don't like dissent," TMC secretary general and state minister Partha Chatterjee said.
Ghosh had defended the BJP governments of Uttar Pradesh, Assam and Karnataka for incidents of police firing on violent anti-CAA protesters, saying they did the "right thing".
The BJP leader said those involved in arson and vandalism should be shot, like in Uttar Pradesh.
"They will come here, enjoy all the facilities and destroy the country's property. Is it their zamindari?" he asked, and demanded that those "sabotaging" the interests of Hindu Bengalis needed to be identified.
He had also claimed there were two crore "Muslim infiltrators" in the country and over one crore were illegally staying in West Bengal. "Mamata Banerjee is trying to protect them," he alleged.
Sharply reacting to Ghosh's remarks, the CPI-M alleged the BJP was trying to create an "authoritarian state".
"The BJP has been claiming that the state governments led by them have not opened fire. Now the cat is out of the bag. Dilip Ghosh has spilled the beans. The BJP is trying to create an authoritarian state and killing protesters is a step towards it," senior CPI(M) leader Sujan Chakraborty said.
(With inputs from agencies)