Senior Trinamool Congress leaders courted fresh controversy during the ongoing rural polls campaign, with a district president of the party inciting workers to “attack and burn down houses of independent candidates” and “hurl bombs at the police.” Meanwhile, a Trinamool MP told party cadres at an election rally to beat up Communist Party of India (Marxist) supporters.

“If independent candidates issue any threats then attack and burn down their houses,” Anubrata Mondal, the district president of Trinamool Congress, said at an election rally on Wednesday, and added: “If the administration thinks of supporting the independents, then you hurl bombs at the police. I am telling you, hurl bombs at the police.”

On Thursday, the house of Rabilal Murmu, an independent candidate contesting from Gopalpur village in Birbhum district, was set on fire. Mr. Mondal had last month asked Trinamool supporters to stop Opposition candidates from filing nomination papers.

Meanwhile, local television channels on Thursday aired a speech that Trinamool Congress MP from Nadia district, Tapas Pal, delivered at an election rally in Krishnanagar on Tuesday. Mr. Pal was seen alleging that the CPI (M) was a party of “thieves and rapists.”

He exhorted Trinamool workers to beat up CPI (M) supporters. “Other than being an MP, I, Tapas Pal, am also foot soldier of the Trinamool Congress. I am asking you to beat up the CPI (M) activists.”

The remarks, which come during the ongoing rural polls in the State, invited scathing criticism from the Opposition. While the CPI (M) described the remarks as a cognisable offence, the Congress said the Trinamool leaders should be put behind bars. The BJP said the Trinamool Congress leaders were speaking like “Maoists.”

“Mamata Banerjee should realise that with people like Mr. Mondal and Mr. Pal the Trinamool Congress is nothing less that an unruly mob, There are many more people like them in the party,” said CPI (M) central committee member Mohd Salim. What Mr. Mondal had said was a cognisable offence, but the Trinamool Congress would neither condemn not take action against him, Mr. Salim added.

“The utterances and violence instigated by him is a direct subversion of the democratic processes,” State Congress general secretary Omprakash Mishra said.