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regular-article-logo Friday, 23 February 2024

Having reduced the whole nation to begging, BJP dare call TMC thieves: Mamata Banerjee

The Trinamul Congress chairperson launched the broadside against the BJP on the Assembly premises, barely a kilometre from the venue of Amit Shah’s rally

Meghdeep Bhattacharyya Calcutta Published 30.11.23, 06:46 AM
Mamata Banerjee and Trinamul MLAs stage the demonstration near the statue of BR Ambedkar on the Assembly premises on Wednesday.

Mamata Banerjee and Trinamul MLAs stage the demonstration near the statue of BR Ambedkar on the Assembly premises on Wednesday. Pradip Sanyal

Mamata Banerjee on Wednesday tore into the BJP, asserting that the party would neither retain power at the Centre next year nor win in Bengal in 2026.

The Trinamul Congress chairperson launched the broadside against the BJP on the Assembly premises, barely a kilometre from the venue of Amit Shah’s rally.

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The Bengal chief minister, who led from the front her legislature party’s two-hour Kala Divas (Black Day) protest demonstration by the B.R. Ambedkar statue on the Assembly premises, said she wasn’t intimidated by the saffron regime’s two top leaders.

“There is nothing to be gained from showing me Amit Shah or Narendra Modi,” she said at the end of the demonstration, to loud cheers from the Trinamul legislators.

“Those who plundered and looted all their lives. Those who conducted loots and carried out robberies…. Their meeting (rally) has flopped,” added Mamata. “They are not going to win either in ’24 (general election) or in ’26 (Bengal Assembly polls).”

Trinamul MLAs pivoted to observe Day II of their three-day (two hours daily) demonstration — against the alleged step-motherly treatment of Bengal by the BJP-led Centre — as a Black Day on account of the Union home minister’s visit to the city for the rally.

At the demonstration on Wednesday, all Trinamul MLAs, except Mamata, were dressed in black. However, the chief minister, who arrived in a white sari, had a black uttoriyo (sash) over her shoulders.

The final 20 minutes or so of the demonstration, which began around 3pm, got tense as a few BJP MLAs, led by leader of the Opposition Suvendu Adhikari, returned to the Assembly from the Shah rally venue and started yelling at the Trinamul gathering. They called Mamata, her nephew Abhishek Banerjee and others in the ruling party “thieves”.

The BJP MLAs sat on the main staircase leading to the House and started an impromptu demonstration against the alleged kleptocracy of Trinamul.

As the Trinamul legislators, too, started shouting back, calling the BJP “thieves”, the Assembly premises were on the edge for several minutes at dusk. Security personnel scampered in, ready to prevent the two sides — barely 20 metres apart — from coming to blows.

“Misusing the Trinamul Congress’s name, thereby bringing the party disrepute… those traitors are feared by none of us. Even the smallest of us do not,” said a visibly agitated Mamata, even as the BJP legislators kept shouting. She was apparently referring to Adhikari, who had defected from Trinamul to the BJP in December 2020, and others in his family.

The chief minister went on to say she would urge Speaker Biman Banerjee to initiate action, in consultation with police, against those responsible for the ruckus.

“But we do adhere to a tradition. If somebody else conducts a programme, if the permission has been taken, then we do not hinder it,” she said.

Adhikari was suspended from the Assembly by the Speaker on Tuesday for the remaining period of the brief winter session, which Shah brought up at the rally.

“Today, those who got no attention there, got trounced (in elections), those losers… that party of looters have come here now. This should not be tolerated,” she added. “Because their meeting was a flop, they have come here to be indecent. They don’t know the basics of civility.”

Without further escalation, the Trinamul gathering dispersed thereafter.

Earlier in the day, during the discussion before passing of a bill to hike the monthly pay of MLAs, Mamata said on the floor of the House that ones who had made a lot of money through corruption were protesting the move, referring to the BJP’s stand against the upward revision.

She advised the BJP legislature party — not in the House, but at the Shah rally venue at the time — to instead demand the release of central funds due to Bengal, to the tune of Rs 1.15 lakh crore, frozen for two years. It includes, according to Trinamul, MGNREGS wages of 21 lakh poor people who worked under the scheme but remain unremunerated.

“The BJP has bought everything. But they will not give the poor their dues. MGNREGS, the Awas Yojana, road infrastructure… nothing,” the chief minister said, going on to criticise the alleged “agency raj” in the saffron regime.

“Those who have a great deal are the ones stealing the most. Wearing saffron (the colour of sacrifice) does not make you an ascetic…. Having reduced the whole nation to begging, they dare call Trinamul thieves,” she added. “Remember, nobody stays in power forever. Everything will be found out, eventually. Even money stashed away, in foreign lands.”

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