In a repeat show of support for Congress leader Rahul Gandhi following his ouster from the Lok Sabha, Trinamul Congress national general secretary Abhishek Banerjee used the issue to pivot his pointed and simultaneous attacks against Prime Minister Narendra Modi and Bengal’s Leader of Opposition Suvendu Adhikari.
Speaking at the public meeting, organised jointly by the Trinamul Youth Congress and the party’s student wing Trinamul Chhatra Parishad on Shaheed Minar ground in central Calcutta on Wednesday, Banerjee tried to make a case for similar punishments for the Prime Minister and the state LoP for allegedly committing the same offence as Gandhi. He was addressing an impressive gathering less than a kilometer away from where chief minister Mamata Banerjee was holding her two-day dharna to protest alleged “discrimination” by the Centre against Bengal.
“Rahul Gandhi was recently disqualified from the Parliament. We opposed the move. Not because it was Rahul Gandhi. We would have done the same for any other MP because we oppose the manner in which he was punished, by sheer exercise of brute force, centering around a political comment he made… to first, punish him for two years and, subsequently, throw him out of the Parliament within the next 24 hours,” Banerjee said.
“What did Rahul Gandhi say? He named Nirav Modi, Latit Modi and Narendra Modi. I do not support what he said and I don’t want to hurt the sentiments of anyone. But I want to ask the people of Bengal this… if calling people with Modi surnames thieves tantamount to hurting the sentiments of the entire community, why shouldn’t the Prime Minister also be disqualified from the Parliament for hurting the sentiments of all women when he remarked ‘Didi, O Didi’ during at his 2021 election rallies in Bengal? Why will he not be punished for making sarcastic and derogatory statements against the entire women community?” Banerjee asked with assertion.
“There are people from the ST community who are present here. If Rahul Gandhi is punished for hurting the entire OBC community, then why should the Leader of Opposition go unpunished for stating that he keeps leaders like Birbaha Hansda and Debnath Hansda underneath his shoes? Is the law different for me and you, I ask. Is the law of the land different for me because I am a Trinamul worker and different for you because you support the BJP?” Banerjee stated.
Banerjee also declared that he plans to take legal action in the matter. “I am asking the members of the Trinamul legal cell to prepare a case to move court by getting armed with the judgment of the Surat court. I want a petition within a month asking if Rahul Gandhi has been sentenced for two years jail for hurting sentiments of the OBC community then why should Suvendu Adhikari not go to jail for hurting the sentiments of the ST community? Let the people then observe who gets the judiciary’s support and whether the judiciary is independent. If the law of the country is applicable in Gujarat, then the same law should be applicable in Bengal,” he said.
“We will build an agitation demanding the removal of the prime minister and the state’s leader of opposition from their respective memberships of the parliament and the assembly for hurting sentiments of different communities,” the TMC leader added.
Upping the ante for alleged withholding of central funds amounting to over Rs 1 lakh crore, Banerjee threatened to take the protest to the streets of Delhi. “21 CBI investigations were ordered in Bengal in the past 21 months. I dare you to initiate a CBI probe in MNREGA implementation. But first return the money you have withheld from 17 lakh families of this state. I declare this openly that if anyone from Trinamul Congress is found involved in any corruption there, he will be expelled within 24 hours. And if you don’t release the money then, I promise I will march with the people and render Delhi immobile,” Banerjee declared.