Mamata sends bureaucrats off her dais, then takes a dig at Centre
Mamata Banerjee on Friday stopped a speech midway at a state government event and asked officials to leave the dais before making “a political comment” in which she took potshots at the Centre, with sources attributing the move to the controversy over senior bureaucrats’ presence at her Metro Channel dharna.
Some termed Friday’s order by the chief minister in Hooghly’s Tarakeswar a first in recent memory. “I’m going to make a political comment. Officials on the dais, please leave for now,” Mamata said 30 minutes into her address before attacking the saffron camp over its “politics of hatred”.
Sources attributed the move to the row over Mamata’s 70-hour dharna at Calcutta’s Metro Channel from February 3 against a CBI team landing at the doorstep of then Calcutta police chief Rajeev Kumar.
Metro Channel was frequented by senior officials during the protest as Mamata ran the government from a police outpost behind the dharna dais. Although none of the officials was seen on the dais that came up on February 4, several of them were seen seated with her when she launched the agitation on February 3.
The Narendra Modi government had asked the state to act against some senior IPS officers for “violating service rules” over their presence at the dharna, besides mulling withdrawal of their police medals. Mamata had defended the officials stoutly, saying her dharna was “apolitical” and the officials were visiting her off-dais as she was running the government from there, and ruled out any action.
However, Friday’s gesture in Tarakeswar indicated a rethink, especially ahead of the Lok Sabha polls when the entire administration will come under the Election Commission. “I have never seen her do anything like this. But this is how it is likely to be at government events, at least till the end of the elections,” said a senior Trinamul leader.
After the officials left the Tarakeswar dais, Mamata slammed the Centre for making “false” promises and accused the saffron camp of fomenting tension in Bengal.
“Even today, I have heard about violence….Rumours are spread by people of the BJP and the RSS,” she said, asking people to complain to police against inflammatory propaganda and urging them not to take the law into their hands. ADG Siddh Nath Gupta said 40 people had been arrested over such incidents.
Note on attacks
Mamata has sent a note to state security adviser Surajit Kar Purkayastha expressing concern over “attacks on public representatives with firearms”. She asked senior officers to be more pro-active in gathering intelligence to prevent such incidents.