Abhishek Banerjee, who reached Calcutta on Wednesday evening, continued from where he left off in New Delhi, mounting a scathing offensive on the BJP over the ill-treatment allegedly meted out to the delegation led by him to Krishi Bhavan on Tuesday evening.
The Trinamul national general secretary repeated his accusations against junior Union rural development minister Sadhvi Niranjan Jyoti, besides the police and paramilitary forces under Union home minister Amit Shah’s command, and Prime Minister Narendra Modi.
“Have these 20 lakh workers worked under the MGNREGS or not? If yes, the Centre must hold a media conference to explain the law of the land that allows them to block for over two years the wages of those who have already provided their labour for months,” said the 35-year-old leader, who led Trinamul from the front in Mamata Banerjee’s absence on account of a health issue.
“It is condemnable how the MGNREGS families, including elderly women, were manhandled and assaulted by Delhi Police (on Tuesday). They did not even show an iota of courtesy or humanity,” he said at the Calcutta airport, adding that all the women in the 40-member delegation he led to Krishi Bhavan were manhandled, that too on camera. “They dragged the women MPs by their hair and treated them like animals.... The only sin they committed was to demand the rightful funds of Bengal’s MGNREGS workers.”
Trinamul alleged the delegation was denied the scheduled meeting for three hours, before being manhandled and assaulted by Delhi Police and central forces, and detained for over 90 minutes from 9.15pm at the New Police Lines at Kingsway Camp in GTB Nagar.
In scores of pockets across the state, Trinamul conducted dhikkar (condemnation) rallies on Wednesday, in protest against the alleged ill-treatment of the delegation in Delhi.
On Tuesday, Trinamul’s two-day protest in Delhi was capped by high drama at night, as Abhishek accused Jyoti of fleeing through the backdoor to avoid meeting them, although she met the BJP’s Nandigram MLA Suvendu Adhikari earlier.
Jyoti issued a statement dismissive of Abhishek’s claims, for which Trinamul called her a “liar”.
“Their allegation is that our beloved Narendrabhai Modi’s government is blocking funds due to Bengal…. They ran from my presence because of the facts and figures that I was to place before them,” she said.
“Are they lying or am I? The water would have been separated from the milk in that meeting, which is why they did not come to my table,” she added.
Abhishek dared her to substantiate her claims with Krishi Bhavan’s CCTV footage.
Abhishek said a march from Rabindra Sadan to Raj Bhavan in Calcutta would take place from 3pm on Thursday.
“A delegation of 40-50 will seek an appointment from the governor as a part of our Raj Bhavan cholo programme. I hope the governor will meet us and accept the 50 lakh letters (from deprived beneficiaries) that we had taken to Delhi and that were tossed out by those at Krishi Bhavan,” added Abhishek.
Governor C.V. Ananda Bose, however, was in Kerala on Wednesday. It was unclear if he will return on Thursday.
On Wednesday too, Abhishek attacked Modi as a “jomidar (feudal lord)”, vowing to bring his allegedly tyrannical regime to an end. The Bengal leadership of the BJP, he labelled as Modi’s letheyl bahini (army of henchmen).
“A Prime Minister, who doesn’t have the courage... to face the media... talks about New India. Modiji’s New India is where public representatives are manhandled by BJP-controlled forces and agencies. Modi’s New India is an India where the utmost corrupt elements are inducted into the BJP,” he said.
“Modi’s New India is an India where hate-mongers, killers, and rapists are rewarded, garlanded and felicitated in public programmes, while honest journalists, speaking truth to power with courage to ask the right questions, are wrongly framed under the UAPA...,” he said, adding he believed "this tyranny will end” when people get to vote.
Responding to being summoned yet again by the Enforcement Directorate (ED) – along with his parents, Amit and Lata Banerjee, and wife Rujira Narula, separately, Abhishek said: "I am not challenging any investigating agency but the Prime Minister and the Union home minister, who control these investigating agencies. I challenge the national BJP chief (J.P. Nadda) and their Bengal henchmen, to try and stop the people’s movement to take Bengal’s rightful dues from the Centre."
“What happened in Delhi was a trailer, the film will be shown by Mamata Banerjee in two months. Wait for it. Over one lakh people from Bengal will march on Rajpath under her leadership,” he added.