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Will meet Modi during Delhi trip, says Mamata

Miss Banerjee said the Pegasus snooping scandal was “bigger” than the 1972 Watergate scandal in the US, and coupled with the latest tax raids on media houses, signalled a “super-emergency” in the country.

Statesman News Service | Kolkata |

Chief minister Mamata Banerjee today said she will meet Prime Minister Narendra Modi when she visits Delhi next week. This will be the first one on one meeting between the two leaders after Miss Banerjee returned to power for the third consecutive term on 2 May.

“I will go to Delhi for 2-3 days. I will meet the President if I get time. The PM has given me time. I will meet him,” said Miss Banerjee at Nabanna today while slamming the central government over a range of issues from the Pegasus snooping scandal to the tax raids on media houses.

Miss Banerjee said the Pegasus snooping scandal was “bigger” than 1972 Watergate scandal in the US and coupled with the latest tax raids on media houses, signalled a “super-emergency” in the country.

“I condemn the attack on the owners and journalists of Dainik Bhaskar. On one side, the raids and on the other side Pegasus. This is dangerous,” she said. Miss Banerjee’s trip to Delhi is being seen as an attempt to galvanise the disjointed Opposition to take on the might of the ruling BJP in 2024 when the next Lok Sabha elections are scheduled.

Miss Banerjee today reiterated that there was no post-poll violence in the state and all incidents related to violence were “sporadic” and “prepoll”. Till 3 May the administration was under the ECI and the incidents happened at that time. After taking oath on 5 May, the total DM and police set up had to be changed to ensure law and order,” she said.

She complained that the areas, where the BJP won, had witnessed much higher incidents of violence and murders. Slamming the BJP for politicising institutes she said the party had appointed one of their leaders as the NHRC head and had given a violence-related report from their office, which was given to the press before being submitted to the court.

“If judiciary, press, independent institutions and civil society becomes weak then dangerous autocracy is practised in the name of democracy,” she said. Miss Banerjee said that the Global Advisory Committee will meet on 5 August to discuss the third Covid wave even though the Centre has not yet started any such discussion.

Condemning the tax raids in Dainik Bhaskar’s office, Miss Banerjee said it was a deliberate move by the Modi-led central government to harass the editor, reporters, editorial staff and others since they bravely reported the way Modi and handled the Covid-19 crisis and threw the country down the gauntlet. She called the raid “vindictive” that aims to muzzle voices that speak the truth.

“It’s a grave violation that undermines the very principles of democracy,” she said. Urging the media fraternity to stay united, Miss Banerjee said, “together we shall defeat the autocratic forces.” She appealed to opposition leaders and members of civil society to build a sustained protest against Pegasus “Snoopgate”.

“Why the Centre has used this spyware against the opposition leaders, judges, journalists, bureaucrats and even against some of their own ministers?” she asked. Miss Banerjee said under BJP, democracy is in peril as the saffron camp is trying to destroy all the four pillars of democracy by snooping on the legislators, executives, judges and media.

By increasing fuel price hike, the Centre has accrued Rs 3.7 lakh crore from the taxpayers, she asked, “Has the money been spent to procure Pegasus spyware?”