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regular-article-logo Sunday, 16 June 2024

'Saddened' Mamata pledges to visit Sandeshkhali as soon as TMC 'wins from Basirhat'

Chief minister said Sandeshkhali was the 'BJP’s Plan A', which was foiled by 'our women', and warned people of its 'Plan B' of fomenting 'communal trouble'

Meghdeep Bhattacharyya Calcutta Published 22.05.24, 05:19 AM
Mamata Banerjee at an election rally in Basirhat on Tuesday.

Mamata Banerjee at an election rally in Basirhat on Tuesday. Picture by Pashupati Das.

Mamata Banerjee on Tuesday pledged to visit Sandeshkhali as soon as the Trinamool Congress “wins from Basirhat”, the Lok Sabha constituency that includes the Sunderbans island, and accused the BJP of planning to stoke communal tensions.

The chief minister said Sandeshkhali was the “BJP’s Plan A”, which was foiled by “our women”, and warned people of its “Plan B” of fomenting “communal trouble”.

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The Trinamool Congress chief, in her first rally for party candidate Haji Nurul at Basirhat this poll season, expressed sadness for the “disrespect” the women of the island faced owing to the alleged BJP conspiracy.

“As soon as our candidate Haji Nurul wins from Basirhat, I will first visit Sandeshkhali. I will go and meet the people there,” Mamata said.

Mamata has been criticised by political rivals for failing to visit Sandeshkhali since trouble broke out there in early February, with women alleging rape and sexual harassment by (now suspended) Trinamool strongman Sheikh Shahjahan and his associates.

Purported sting videos highlighted by Trinamool appear to show a local BJP functionary suggesting women had been paid to make the allegations.

Some videos seem to bolster charges that women were made to sign on blank sheets that were filled out as complaints of sex crimes against Trinamool leaders.

“Whatever happened as part of the Sandeshkhali conspiracy… the way our mothers and sisters were dishonoured, it has caused me profound sadness, I am shocked,” Mamata said. “We have to ensure that these games of disrespect cannot be played by anyone ever again. If things had not been revealed, the people would never have grasped the extent of the BJP’s Sandeshkhali conspiracy.”

Mamata Banerjee arrives to address the rally in Basirhat on Tuesday.

Mamata Banerjee arrives to address the rally in Basirhat on Tuesday. Picture by Pashupati Das

Mamata said that whenever there were even “one or two” incidents in the state, her government took immediate action. “We take action against everyone responsible, Ram or Rahim, Keshto or Bishtu.”

She added: “Ahead of the elections, the BJP’s Plan A – Sandeshkhali — was foiled by our women. Their Plan B is to foment communal trouble, with temple-mosque, Hindu-Muslim. This is ongoing. I urge the people to ensure there are no riots. “We keep our promises; the BJP only resorts to lies. The honourable Prime Minister calls someone over the phone to hold a tutored conversation, and circulates it for television. But how many people does he actually talk to, or care about?”

Mamata seemed to be alluding to a widely circulated audio clip of a conversation between Prime Minister Narendra Modi and the BJP’s Basirhat candidate Rekha Patra, projected by her party as a Sandeshkhali whistleblower. In the clip, Modi heaps praise on Patra.

“It is under his (Modi’s) tenure that this nation has seen the most heinous crimes against women. BJP-ruled Uttar Pradesh is at the top when it comes to crimes against the Scheduled Castes,” Mamata said.

Patra relief

Justice Jay Sengupta of Calcutta High Court on Tuesday directed state police not to take any coercive measures against Patra till June 14.

The police have registered an FIR suo motu (on their own) accusing the BJP candidate of masterminding a mob attack on local Trinamool leader Dilip Mallik this month after allegedly implicating him in false charges of corruption.

Patra’s petition, which says she fears police harassment, will be heard in detail on June 12.

Additional reporting by Tapas Ghosh

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