"Today is a black day for Indian democracy," TMC general secretary Abhishek Banerjee said as he and other party leaders were released by the police on Tuesday night, hours after being detained during a sit-in at the Union Rural Development Ministry office here.
Banerjee said Tuesday's incident will stand as an example of 'New India' as public representatives were "dragged and manhandled" by Delhi Police and journalists questioning the government were booked under the anti-terror law UAPA.
The development came as the tug-of-war between the Centre and the West Bengal government over the release of funds to the state intensified with the TMC holding protests in the national capital for the second consecutive day.
Banerjee, along with party lawmakers, state ministers and supporters including MGNREGA workers, protested at Jantar Mantar here, a day after they held a two-hour sit-in at the Rajghat on Mahatma Gandhi's birth anniversary before being evicted by the police.
They later took out a march to the Rural Development Ministry at the Krishi Bhawan, where they had an appointment with Minister of State Sadhvi Niranjan Jyoti.
However, around an hour and a half after going to the Bhawan, TMC leaders claimed that the MoS refused to meet them saying she would not meet more than five representatives. The TMC leaders, who had brought with them bundles of letters addressed to the prime minister and the rural development minister, refused to leave till the MoS met them.
Led by Banerjee, a group of TMC leaders sat on a dharna, which continued till around 9 pm, after which they were detained by the police and evicted from the ministry premises.
Banerjee said that around 40 people, including TMC leaders and government scheme beneficiaries, had gone to meet Minister of State for Rural Development Sadhvi Niranjan Jyoti, but she did not meet them.
The TMC MP from West Bengal's Diamond Harbour claimed that the minister had agreed to meet them at 6 pm. "She met BJP leaders and made us wait. At 8.30 pm, she left through the back door," he said, adding that the Centre should provide "papers" related to the scam they have alleged.
"You (BJP) are snatching away the rights of the people of Bengal because you lost in the state. BJP has lost all elections in Bengal, that is why they have stopped the money of the people," he said addressing the media soon after being released from detention. Banerjee accused the Delhi Police of manhandling elected representatives, including women. "The way Delhi Police officials behaved today... MPs were pulled by their hair and dragged out. An MP is elected by lakhs of people. BJP's Zamindar in Raj Bhavan is nominated. Dragging and manhandling them... Mahua Moitra, Dola Sen, the way they were grabbed by their hands and legs and dragged into police vans, people will reply to it," he said.
Challenging the BJP, Banerjee said, "In the next six months people will teach you a lesson. People of the country will exercise their power and today's event will remain a black day. Even the British did not behave so badly as the Delhi Police did today." "Journalists are being booked under different sections, public representatives are being manhandled, corrupt people are being inducted and their sins are being washed away and the rapists of Bilkis Bano are being honoured," he said.
The TMC general secretary also announced a 'Raj Bhavan Chalo' march on October 5 in Kolkata. "The BJP leaders who talk big about democracy are silent today. We will take the 50 lakh letters to Raj Bhavan along with us. The governor will have to answer us now. We want an answer for each and every letter," Banerjee added.
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