West Bengal Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee continued her dharna against the Central Bureau of Investigation (CBI) move against the Kolkata police commissioner Rajeev Kumar in connection with ponzi scam cases.
Accusing Prime Minister Narendra Modi and BJP chief Amit Shah of unleashing a state of “emergency” in the country, Banerjee, the chief of Trinamool Congress (TMC), said on Monday that her protest is a Satyagraha and she will continue till the country is saved.
Banerjee has been on a sit-in at a makeshift dais at Dharamtala area near Metro Channel of the city since 9 pm on Saturday.
“The nation can see but they can’t speak out of fear,” she said, further accusing the Centre of playing vendetta politics.
“The Modi govt has taken away the democratic rights of the people,” Banerjee said, adding, “Centre is targeting opposition.”
Banerjee, who was scheduled meet farmers today at the Netaji Indoor Stadium, addressed them from the protest site over Facebook Live.
“The Modi government has sucked the blood of the farmers. Around 12,000 farmers have committed suicide,” she alleged.
Banerjee said that her government works for farmers’ welfare.
Commenting on crop insurance schemes for the farmers, Banerjee claimed that the state government has done more than the Modi government in this regard.
“Modi says he has sent money. He hasn’t. Eighty per cent of the money contributed into the scheme is of the state government. We pay the share of both the state government and that of the farmers. We have given Rs 600 crores. We have given Kisan credit card to 70 lakh farmers,” Banerjee said.
Further hitting at the Modi government, Banerjee said that the Modi government, after 5 years, says that farmer income will double by 2022.
“I say with pride, we have tripled the income already. The West Bengal govt is way ahead,” she told the gathering and the farmers.
“Those who try to insult Bengal should know that we consider work as dharma and karma. Doing lip-service is not enough. I will appeal to the farmer brothers and sisters to not allow anyone to exploit your weaknesses for political gains,” she said.
Banerjee’s sit-in, now dubbed ‘Save The Constitution’, received wide support from anti-BJP parties except a few from across the country.
Samajwadi Party (SP) chief Akhilesh Yadav said that Banerjee is right when she says that the BJP is using CBI to target political opponents.
“Besides West Bengal, such things have been heard from other states too. BJP and Centre have started misusing CBI as elections are approaching. Not only I, not only Samajwadi Party, but all political parties are saying this,” he said on Monday.
“There was CBI row, centre was scared of a CBI director, now they are trying to scare everyone using CBI. Who has misused? The institutions. If someone has politicised the institutions, it is BJP,” Yadav said.
The former Uttar Pradesh Chief Minister recently formed an alliance with the Bahujan Samaj Party (BSP) to take on the BJP in the upcoming Lok Sabha elections. He was also among the leaders present at the mega anti-BJP rally organised by Mamata Banerjee in Kolkata on 19 January.
Extending support of the National Conference (NC), Farooq Abdullah said, “Her (Mamata Banerjee) allegation is right. This country is in danger as its becoming dictatorial. They (Central govt) are not masters of this country, people are.”
Delhi Chief Minister Arvind Kejriwal, Andhra Pradesh Chief Minister N. Chandrababu Naidu, National Conference leader Omar Abdullah RJD leader Tejashwi Yadav and DMK leader M K Stalin were among leaders who expressed their solidarity with Banerjee in tweets.
Kejriwal called Modi-Shah duo’s action is against democracy.
“Spoke to Mamta didi and expressed solidarity. Modi-Shah duo’s action is completely bizarre and anti-democracy,” Kejriwal said.
Yadav, who also spoke to Banerjee, extended RJD’s support, “BJP has not only venomous and nefarious agenda against opposition leaders but Indian Administrative Service and Police Officers. Might visit Kolkata tomorrow,” he said on Sunday night.
Stalin said he stood with Banerjee in her fight to protect the federal structure of this country and to save democracy. “The independence of every institution has been compromised under this fascist BJP Government.”
Congress president Rahul Gandhi too threw his weight behind Banerjee.
Sitaram Yechury, CPI(M) general secretary, said that corruption cases against TMC government in chit fund scam have been public for years but the Modi government chose to stay quiet as the top mastermind of the scam joined BJP.
“It does a drama to act now, after 5 years, and TMC leadership responds by staging a drama to protect its corrupt. This drama in Kolkata by BJP and TMC is not a fight for any principle but only to save their corrupt and hide their corruption. CPI(M) has fought both these undemocratic, corrupt, communal and dictatorial regimes in the Centre and the state and will continue to do so,” he said.
CBI vs Kolkata Police: How it began
The showdown began when CBI officials reached official residence of the police commissioner in the evening to question him in connection with the ponzi scam cases. Reports indicate that the probe agency sleuths were spotted in the vicinity in the afternoon, alerting the police who reached the Commissioner’s residence immediately.
Kolkata Police officials inquired if the 40-odd CBI officers had the documents required to question the CP.
After preventing the CBI officials from entering the residence of Commissioner Kumar, the police whisked away some of the sleuths to the Shakespeare Sarani police station for further discussions.
More CBI men arrived at the Loudon Street home of Rajeev Kumar and a commotion ensued. Some CBI men were then bundled into police jeeps and taken to the police station.
It was after this incident that Mamata Banerjee began a sit-in in front of the Metro Cinema to protest “insults” faced at the hands of Prime Minister Narendra Modi and BJP chief Amit Shah. She accused both the BJP leaders of organising a “coup” on West Bengal.
The CBI on Monday moved the Supreme Court seeking directions to Kolkata Police Commissioner Rajeev Kumar to cooperate with the investigation.
Representing CBI, Solicitor General Tushar Mehta sought directions to Kumar to cooperate with the investigation and surrender all the evidence related to the chit fund case, stating that the top cop was a “potential accused”.
The CBI has claimed that Kumar has been instrumental in causing destruction of evidence and obstructing justice.
Meanwhile, on Monday, Home Minister Rajnath Singh told the Lok Sabha that the CBI action was initiated after the Supreme Court ordered an investigation into Saradha chit fund case.
“The Police Commissioner was summoned many times but he did not appear. West Bengal Governor Keshari Nath Tripathi has summoned Chief Secretary and Director General of Police and has asked them to take immediate action to resolve the situation,” Singh told the House.
Banerjee is expected to hold a scheduled cabinet meeting at the protest venue itself. The events were expected to cast a shadow on the Budget Session of Parliament on Monday with the opposition expected to vociferously raise the issue.