TMC leaders being targeted, Mamata accuses Modi-Shah of vendetta politics
Kolkata: Mamata Banerjee on Wednesday accused Prime Minister Narendra Modi and Union Home minister Amit Shah of using central agencies to target Trinamool Congress leaders as part of the BJP's vendetta politics, as soon as the Assembly bypoll dates were announced.
Claiming that the BJP is worse than Duryodhana and Dushashana, Kaurava brothers in the Mahabharata, Banerjee alleged that Modi and Shah had hatched a conspiracy to defeat her in Nandigram during the Assembly election held earlier this year and forced her to contest a bypoll.
The TMC supremo, who started her poll campaign for the Bhowanipore by-election, also alleged that the saffron party is targeting party general secretary Abhishek Banerjee for political reasons, claiming there is no valid case against him.
Abhishek was questioned for about nine hours by the Enforcement Directorate (ED) in Delhi on Monday in a money laundering case linked to an alleged coal pilferage scam in Bengal.
However, he was again summoned by the ED on Wednesday to which he said that it was not possible for him to go to Delhi on such a short notice.
"We only know how we fought against all odds to win the Assembly polls. The BJP brought in goons from other states during the Assembly elections. I had to contest this bypoll as a conspiracy was hatched against me (in Nandigram)," she said while addressing a workers' meet here.
"The BJP is pursuing vendetta politics and is targeting Abhishek Banerjee.... As soon as bypoll dates are announced, TMC leaders are being summoned by (central) agencies.
"This is a conspiracy hatched by Narendra Modi and Amit Shah to harass us. Even Duryodhana and Dushashana were not as bad as the BJP. They have used this same technique to harass the Congress, the RJD, Sharad Pawarji (of the NCP)," Mamata said.
The TMC chief, without naming Suvendu Adhikari, said central agencies have not touched him despite his name being involved in the Narada bribery case.
"To take revenge on me, they are grilling Abhishek. Two days back he was questioned for nine hours, again he has been summoned. But the main culprits are roaming outside. They are calling our leaders for interrogation. But the one whose name appeared in connection with the Narada scam has not been called," she said.
Banerjee announced that she will file her nomination on Friday.
Coming down heavily on BJP for its allegation that her party is trying to reap benefits by giving financial assistance to Durga Puja organisers, she clearly stated that there was no violation of the Model Code of Conduct (MCC) by holding the coordination meeting for Durga Puja at Netaji Indoor Stadium on Tuesday.
This comes when state Home Secretary BP Gopalika also wrote to the Election Commission of India clarifying that there was no violation of MCC. Neither any Puja committee from Murshidabad nor from Bhowanipore were invited to attend the coordination meeting.
The BJP approached the Election Commission on Tuesday raising an allegation that there was a violation of MCC with Rs 50,000 financial assistance being announced for each Durga Puja organiser across the state.
Reacting to this, Banerjee said: "I am not a fool. I did not mention any amount to be given to the clubs. The announcement was made by the Chief Secretary. It does not violate the MCC. This is not the first time that assistance is being given to the clubs. A survey conducted by Kharagpur IIT stated that Rs 32,377 crore is involved in the Durga Puja celebrations."
Senior officers opined that there is no question of MCC violation as Banerjee is yet to file her nomination.
The Election Commission of India urged the state government to highlight the actual facts about Tuesday's coordination meeting after BJP raised the allegation.
Sources said the MCC is in place in the entire Murshidabad district with bypolls taking place in Shamsherganj and Jangipur Assembly constituencies but it would be applied only in the area under Bhowanipore Assembly constituency as it is within a metropolitan city. The state government has informed the Commission that no Puja organisers from these areas attended the meeting.
Bratya Basu, the state Education minister, said BJP does not understand the sentiments of the people of Bengal. "Durga Puja, the biggest festival in Bengal, has social, cultural and economic implications. People from different communities and cultural backgrounds take part. As the clubs play a major role in giving the message of communal peace and harmony, assistance is given to them."