Mamata calls for return to ballots
Kolkata: Giving a clarion call to bring back transparency in the voting process, Trinamool Congress supremo Mamata Banerjee proposed to hold elections in the Panchayats and civic bodies using ballot papers, replacing the Electronic Voting Machines (EVMs).
She was addressing the largest rally till date to commemorate Martyrs' Day, at Esplanade on Sunday afternoon. Police had gunned down 13 Youth Congress supporters who took part in a rally demanding "No ID card no vote" on July 21, 1993. Trinamool has been observing the day as Martyrs' Day since the inception of the party on January 1, 1998.
"We will request the Election Commission to conduct elections in Panchayats, municipalities and corporations in ballot papers," she said, adding: "BJP's victory in 2019 Lok Sabha poll is a mystery and not history. USA and all the European countries have discarded EVMs and so our demand is justified. We will show the path."
It may be recalled that in the rallies before the general elections, Banerjee had repeatedly been vocal about the manipulation of EVMs. Many Opposition parties had echoed her voice but none had actually carried out any movement regarding the same.
Referring to the cut money issue, she said: "BJP has misinterpreted what I had told my party men on the issue." Coming down heavily on the saffron party, she raised the slogan 'Return black money' and instructed Trinamool workers to launch movements up to the block level, urging BJP to return black money.
"I have evidence that BJP leaders had taken money for providing Ujala connections. Go back to your areas and launch movement urging BJP leaders to return the money which they had taken," Banerjee said.
She said Trinamool will organise rallies throughout the state, demanding that BJP should disclose the foreign funds which it had received before the general elections. "Indira Jaisingh's residence was raided for receiving foreign funds worth Rs 90 lakh. But BJP has made law in such a way that it will not have to disclose the amount of foreign money it has received. Is it justified?" Banerjee questioned and added: "We have not received Rs 15 lakh in our accounts. We want BJP to return the black money it has received from different sources."
Referring to the deterioration of law and order situation in Bhatpara, she said: "This is the result of voting for BJP. There had not been any problem in Bhatpara in the past eight years. BJP is creating trouble everywhere. CPI(M)'s hoodlums who have joined BJP are now creating trouble in Khejuri and Keshpur."
Speaking about the "double standard" of BJP, the Trinamool supremo said: "In Uttar Pradesh Piyanka Gandhi and the Trinamool delegation led by Derek O' Brien were not allowed to meet the family of the dalits who got killed a few days ago. In Assam, the Trinamool delegation which had gone to meet those whose names had been dropped from the NRC list, were not allowed to go out of the airport. However, a BJP delegation came from Delhi and met people in Bhatpara, flouting the prohibitory order under Section 144 CrPC."
Banerjee alleged that BJP is involved in horse trading in Bengal as well. "I was talking to one of our MLAS from North Bengal and he told me that BJP had proposed to give him Rs 2 crore and a petrol pump," she said, adding: "People will shun them who will join BJP after taking money."
Cheering up the party workers assembled at the rally, she said: "There is nothing to worry. We have increased our vote percentage. Work seriously in your locality and build contacts with local people. Have faith in Trinamool and face any situation courageously and do not run away in case any trouble crops up."
"BJP will try out all means to scare us and harass us. But under no circumstance will we bow down to the party that has vitiated society," she added.
Meanwhile, she urged CPI(M) and Congress "not to take up self-destructive methods" and launch movement against BJP. "You do not have to support us. Put up a serious fight against the BJP," she stated.
Banerjee also announced the programmes which the party will undertake in the next few months.