Trinamul leader Abhishek Banerjee on Saturday said the party had decided to go ahead with its planned programmes and protests in Delhi over the next few days, irrespective of whether police in the capital grant permission for the events.
Around 600 elected representatives led by Abhishek plan to visit Rajghat on Gandhi Jayanti to pay tribute to the Father of the Nation. Later, a protest rally is planned in front of Jantar Mantar with thousands of MGNREGA job card-holders whose wages have been held up because of the Centre’s refusal to disburse funds to Bengal.
“Our MPs, MLAs and ministers will stage a peaceful sit-in at Rajghat in New Delhi on October 2. On October 3, we will go to Jantar Mantar with job card-holders from across Bengal to demand our dues. If the BJP thinks that cancelling trains, denying permissions for programmes and sending notices from the Enforcement Directorate and the CBI will stop Trinamul, they are wrong,” Abhishek said in a virtual address to party leaders and workers from the districts.
“We will not stop this people’s movement,” the Trinamul national general secretary added.
Around 3,500 job card-holders left for Delhi in 50-odd buses on Saturday after the railways refused to provide a special train for which Trinamul had made payments. Besides them, Trinamul is taking 600 of its elected representatives to the national capital to highlight Bengal’s “deprivation” by the BJP-ruled Centre.
A source in Trinamul said the party was yet to get permission from Delhi police, either to visit Rajghat or to protest in front of Jantar Mantar.
“It is tough to visit Rajghat on October 2 without a nod from the police as the area is under high security with the Prime Minister and many other dignitaries visiting the memorial.... If the police do not give permission till Monday morning, it would not be easy to take people there. In that case, we would go up to the point we are allowed,” said the Trinamul leader.
He said the plan would be similar for the Jantar Mantar protest as well. Delhi police report to the Union home ministry.
Abhishek said Trinamul would give a befitting reply if the protesters were attacked.
“We shall stage protests in Delhi on October 2 and 3. If any of the people, labourers or farmers, are attacked in Delhi, the people shall give a befitting reply democratically. You can attack our MPs, MLAs and leaders, but don’t dare do so with our people,” said the Diamond Harbour MP.
Abhishek said the BJP had no right to deprive 2.25 crore job card-holders of Bengal. “They are talking about corruption in implementing the MGNREGA in Bengal.... For the sake of argument, even if I say that a handful of people were involved in this, take action against them. But for 20, 200, or 2,000 such cases of corruption, is it fair to deprive 2.5 crore job card-holders?” he asked.
Sources in Trinamul said sending 3,500 people to Delhi was a logistical nightmare after the special train to ferry them was cancelled at the last hour. A source said that as soon as the train was cancelled, Abhishek asked state transport minister Snehasish Chakraborty to arrange for buses.
“It was not easy to organise 50 buses having national permits to travel to Delhi. Special and temporary permissions for the buses were issued with the help of the transport department. The party had to involve at least 2,000 volunteers to take care of the people during the long journey,” a Trinamul leader said.
A source said Trinmul would have to spend a huge sum of money to take 3,500 people by bus. A source said the special train had been booked by depositing Rs 50 lakh along with a security deposit of Rs 11 lakh, while the cost to hire a bus for five days would be at least Rs 3 lakh.
Trinamul alleged that a commercial flight in which around 120 leaders from North 24-Parganas were to travel to Delhi on Sunday had been cancelled.