Withdraw extension of BSF's jurisdiction in WB: Mamata
New Delhi: West Bengal Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee on Wednesday met Prime Minister Narendra Modi and urged him to withdraw the extension of BSF's jurisdiction in Bengal alongside extending a warm invitation to the Prime Minister to inaugurate the Global Business Meet in the state scheduled to be held next year in April.
Banerjee also told Modi that the federal structure of the country should not be disturbed in any manner.
"I met Prime Minister Narendra Modi today over a number of state-related issues. We also spoke on the BSF's jurisdiction extension issue and demanded that this decision be withdrawn," she said.
The Chief Minister further mentioned that she expects that the Prime Minister's presence at the summit will boost the business possibilities not only in the state but in the entire country.
"We all know how the pandemic has hit the country's economy. I believe, the business summit will be a significant move to pump up the business possibilities," Banerjee added.
At the same time, she also asserted that the Centre must not disturb the federal structure. She said: "I urged the Prime Minister that the federal structure must not be disturbed.
If the Centre needs help from the state police force, the authority will put in all efforts to help them."
Reportedly, Banerjee further told the Prime Minister that if the law and order is solely a state subject and if this equilibrium is changed, it will then lead to an obvious confrontation. She demanded the amendment to the BSF Act be withdrawn immediately.
According to the Ministry of Home Affairs' (MHA) recent notification published on October 11, the BSF Act of 1968 has been amended leading to the expansion of the BSF jurisdiction from 15 km to 50 km in the border states. Though the BSF does not have policing powers, it can apprehend a suspect and conduct preliminary questioning. The seized consignment or a suspect has to be handed over to the local police within 24 hours. West Bengal has a 2,216 km border with Bangladesh. Hence, TMC argues that the extension of jurisdiction will effectively bring nearly one-third of the state's territory under the BSF's control. It is said that out of 23 districts, nearly 10 districts will be affected. Further, this would have an impact on 21 of the 42 Lok Sabha constituencies, which could have larger political implications.
Banerjee also urged Modi to strengthen the state-Centre relationship, which she has been raising since the BJP came to power at the Centre. "We may have our political differences with each other, which cannot change. Their ideology is different from ours. But that should not affect the Centre-state relationship. The Centre can be strengthened only if the state is strengthened," the Chief Minister asserted.
While speaking to the media at South Avenue, Banerjee also informed that she has raised the issue to clear dues to the tune of Rs 96,000 crore with the Prime Minister that the Centre owes to the state during the meeting. "There were a lot of natural calamities like Amphan, Yaas. We have pending dues that are yet to be cleared by the Centre. There are lots of other schemes. They owe us over Rs 96,000 crore, of which the state claims to have received Rs 1,200 crore. I told him unless we get our dues, how will the state run? He said he will look into it," she maintained.
She is also said to have discussed problems regarding the jute industry. Banerjee claimed that 82 per cent of the jute growers are in West Bengal. The Jute Corporation cap is causing problems for farmers that are instead helping hoarders. Among the pending issues, the Chief Minister said there is Rs 2,000 crore pending as GST dues.
During her hour-long meeting with Modi, she also escalated the outbreaks of political violence in BJP-ruled state Tripura. "I informed him (PM) about the Tripura violence. I told him what is happening is not good. Reporters are being quarantined so that they cannot cover. TMC youth president and a bright artiste Saayoni were arrested with false non-bailable charges of attempt to murder," Banerjee mentioned.
"There is no policy yet on vaccination for 12-18-year-olds. We have given more than 8.5 crore vaccine doses so far but there needs to be clarity on 12-18-year-olds as schools are now reopening. There should not be any gap, so I told him, please send vaccines," she said speaking on Covid vaccination.
With her party trying to expand its footprint across the country after the joining of many prominent faces across several states, mostly at the cost of Congress, political experts further feel that the party has also signalled that it is ready to go ahead on its own in 2024. Also, no scheduled meeting with Congress chief Sonia Gandhi and Delhi Chief Minister Arvind Kejriwal during her ongoing three-day visit to the national Capital raised questions. However, rubbishing all such speculations, the TMC supremo said: "Assembly elections are due in Punjab and Uttar Pradesh. Let Arvind and Soniaji focus on that. They are busy with elections now."
In Uttar Pradesh, she said her party is ready to support Akhilesh Yadav's Samajwadi Party (SP) in the 2022 Assembly elections if he wants. Banerjee also confirmed that she will be visiting Prime Minister Narendra Modi's constituency Varanasi and will be performing the Ganga Aarti there.
Earlier in the day, she also met BJP Rajya Sabha MP Subramanian Swamy. Answering a question, he said: "I was already with her (Mamata). There is no need for me to join the party."