Bengal chief minister Mamata Banerjee on Wednesday accused the BJP of using Central agencies to target Trinamul Congress leaders in pursuance of its vendetta politics as soon as the Assembly by-poll dates were announced.
The TMC supremo, who launched her poll campaign from the Bhawanipore seat on Wednesday by addressing Party workers from Chetla, also alleged that the saffron party was targeting party general secretary and her nephew Abhishek Banerjee for political reasons, claiming there is no valid case against him.
Mamata’s victory from the seat that she has represented twice in the Assembly is beyond doubt, with only the victory margin column to be filled on October 3 when the results are announced. That would wipe out the ignominy of her electoral defeat coming three decades apart at the hands of Trinamul turncoat and now BJP leader of the Opposition Suvendu Adhikary at Nandigram.
“I have to contest again because of their conspiracy. I am happy that I could return to my home,” said Mamata. “I was a victim of conspiracy.”
Mamata accused the BJP of using central law enforcing agencies against her party leaders. “They (Enforcement Directorate) interrogated Abhishek for nine hours and they have summoned him again. Why was the case transferred from Calcutta to Delhi? The BJP uses agencies against Congress, Sharad Pawar, Mulayam Singh Yadav,” she said.
“There is no case against Subrata Mukherjee, Bobby Hakim. Why is the real thief being shielded?” she asked.
Abhishek Banerjee 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.
"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,” she said.
Mamata is standing tall in Bhowanipore with none from any of the rival camps in sight. The Congress, as per its high command, has already withdrawn itself from the fray, while its alliance partner, CPM, is likely to field advocate Shrijeeb Biswas from the seat.
Despite the presence of over 40 per cent non-Bengali Hindus in the constituency, Mamata’s replacement, Sobhnadeb Chattopadhyay, won the seat by a margin of 28,719 votes.
Even the fledgling BJP, the only elected Opposition in the state, is in disarray with some of its newly elected legislators, most of whom who had come from Trinamul, have returned to their former party.
Others who are still with the party but had tasted defeat in the March-April elections are reluctant to contest against the incumbent chief minister.
“Lots of names are floating around but many of them are reluctant to contest against the chief minister. Many of them when approached by the central leadership have refused,” said BJP state president Dilip Ghosh.
The BJP had considered fielding a well-known face like Mithun Chakraborty, who moved to BJP from Trinamul before the Assembly polls. Actor Rudranil Ghosh, who was also with the Trinamul earlier, had contested and lost in the summer polls against Chattopadhyay.
And although Ghosh had expressed his desire to contest against Mamata, the BJP leadership is not keen on fielding him again.
The BJP central leadership is likely to announce the name of the candidate in a day or two. Among the names being considered are former president Pratap Banerjee, ward 86 councillor Teesta Biswas Das and Priyanka Tibrewal, advocate and losing nominee from Entally who had filed the case on post-poll violence in the state which has led to a court-monitored CBI probe.
Trinamul’s well-oiled machinery was put into action from Wednesday itself.
Prominent South Calcutta leaders and ministers Subrata Mukherjee, Firhad Hakim, Subrata Bakshi and Madan Mitra have been given responsibility to micro-manage the wards.
Mamata will file her nomination on Friday, though the last day for doing so is Monday.
Bhowanipore, along with Assembly seats of Shamshergunj and Jangipur, will go to the polls on September 30. The results of all the three bypolls would be announced on October 3, just about a week before Durga Puja, Bengal’s grandest festival. According to the notification of the Election Commission, the poll process will be completed before October 5, a month to spare before the deadline for Mamata to become an elected MLA expires.