The acrimony between the TMC and the BJP intensified on Thursday, as a delegation of saffron party MLAs, led by Suvendu Adhikari, visited the BSF office near Kolkata to apologise for the "derogatory remarks" made against the force by a ruling party MLA and the passage of Assembly resolution opposing the enhancement of the paramilitary force's jurisdiction.
The TMC hit back, alleging that the BJP was trying to turn the BSF into its "frontal organisation".
The ruling party's Dinhata MLA, Udayan Guha, recently accused the BSF of "touching women inappropriately" in border areas under the garb of frisking.
Adhikari and several BJP MLAs on Thursday evening visited the BSF's South Bengal headquarters in Newtown area and held a meeting with senior officials.
"We visited the BSF office to apologise to its personnel for the derogatory language used against them in the Assembly as well as for the resolution that was passed by TMC MLAs against the extension of the force's jurisdiction in the state. As legislators of that same Assembly, we thought it is necessary that we apologise on their behalf," Adhikari said after the meeting.
He alleged that TMC leaders have no respect for the country's security forces.
"We have the highest regard for our security personnel and are grateful to them for the sacrifices they make to protect us, to secure our borders," the leader of opposition in the Assembly stated.
The Centre has recently amended the BSF Act to authorise the force to undertake search, seizure and arrest within a larger 50 km stretch, instead of 15 km, from the international border in Punjab, West Bengal and Assam.
In response, the West Bengal Assembly on Tuesday passed a resolution against the Centre's decision to extend BSF's jurisdiction, dubbing the step as an "attack" on the country's federal structure.
Reacting to Adhikari's visit, TMC MP Sukhendu Sekhar Roy said the BJP was trying to use BSF as a "pawn" for its political gains.
"BJP leaders are trying to use BSF as a "pawn" to serve their political interests. The BJP is trying to turn the BSF office into its frontal organisation, as it did with other central agencies. We condemn such attempts to politicise security forces. We have huge respect for the BSF," he said.
The BSF on Wednesday sought to allay the misgiving about the extension of its jurisdiction, insisting the border guarding force does not have policing powers or authority to register an FIR and investigate a case and it will in no way get into any conflict with the state police.
Additional Director General (ADG) of the force (Eastern command) Y B Khurania also trashed as "baseless" the claim of a ruling TMC MLA in West Bengal that male troopers molest women while frisking them, underlining that only women personnel body-search females.