Kolkata: BJP West Bengal unit president Dilip Ghosh's threat to "beat up, shoot and send to jail" anti-CAA protesters, whom he called "infiltrators", and his remark that his party's governments in three states are doing just that, triggered a verbal spat between him and Union Minister Babul Supriyo.
The low level of political discourse sunk even lower, as a Trinamool Congress leader asked the Central government to fatally shoot Ghosh.
Addressing a party rally in Nadia district's Ranaghat, about 80 km from Kolkata, Ghosh alleged that there were one crore infiltrators in the state.
"Friends, please know these people who are opposing Hindus and Bengalis. In whose interest are they doing this? There are one crore infiltrators. They are having their meals and staying here on our money," said the controversial BJP leader known for his incendiary comments.
Referring to the widespread violent protests in the state for days last month against the Citizenship (Amendment) Act, during which trains, buses, railway property were torched and vandalised, Ghosh said: "Several hundred crores... Rs 500-600 crore, went down the drain.
"This (violence) happened because there was neither any baton charge, nor firing, nor was any FIR filed. Why? Didi's (elder sister - as Mamata Banerjee is popularly called) police did not arrest anybody.
"Why didn't they do so, even though so much public property was destroyed? Is it anybody's paternal property? The railway tracks, roads, buses and trains were made with the money we pay as taxes. You are not taking any action only because they are your voters?" she said.
He then referred to some states ruled by the BJP.
"In Assam, Karnataka and Uttar Pradesh, our governments have shot dead these devils like dogs. They were taken elsewhere and then again cases were filed against them. They will come here, eat, stay, and then destroy property, do they think this is their zamindari?
"We will hit them with sticks, shoot them, and also send them to jail. Our governments have done exactly that. Mamata Banerjee doesn't have the guts to do anything," Ghosh added.
His party leader and minister in Narendra Modi cabinet Babul Supriyo slammed Ghosh.
"Very irresponsible of Dilip Da to have said what he said," Supriyo tweeted, adding that BJP as a party has nothing to do with what Ghosh has said.
"It is a figment of his imagination and BJP Governments in UP, Assam have NEVER EVER resorted to shooting people for whatever reason whatsoever," he said.
But Ghosh did not stop, and pooh poohed Supriyo.
"People comment according to their understanding. What I feel is that our governments have done it, and so I said all that. If we get a chance we will also do such things," he said, sticking to his earlier comments.
Supriyo also hit back. "Just as he has remarked 'Whatever Babul Supriyo has understood he has said', similarly I am saying this is Dilipdaa's personal opinion, and it has no connection with the party".
It was then that Trinamool's Birbum district president Anubrata Mondal, who also has a history of making inciteful statements, added to the muddle.
"The Central government should first shoot Dilip Ghosh dead," said Mondal, who had in the past asked his party workers to bomb the police and torch houses of independent candidates contesting Panchayat polls.
Trinamool secretary general Partha Chatterjee flayed Ghosh,
"He should know whatever he says people don't like. He doesn't even have support in his own party," he said.