Bengal Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee, lashing out at the Centre for what she termed “vendetta politics” on Monday, said her partymen will pray at Rajghat if permission to protest in Delhi on Mahatma Gandhi’s birth anniversary is denied.
Trinamool Congress had sought permission from the Delhi Police to protest the non-release of NREGA dues to Bengal at three venues in the national capital including Rajghat where Gandhi’s ashes are kept.
“How can Delhi Police give permission (for the protest) when they are scared? They are not our enemies but they have to follow political directives. Every person can go to pay their respects to Mahatma Gandhi on Gandhi Jayanti. If they deny us permission to protest, our MPs, MLAs, and zilla parishad presidents can go and pray at Rajghat,” Ms Banerjee told reporters at the state secretariat on Monday.
Demanding the Centre release NREGA funds due to Bengal without delay, the Chief Minister said, “They have not given us money for 100 days’ of work, roads, and Gramin Awas Yojana”.
“Bengal owes Rs 1.15 lakh-crore under various heads. If they have even the slightest respect for federalism and state-Centre relations, they should release the funds at the earliest. It is not good to play politics with the poor,” she said.
She also denounced the summons sent by the Enforcement Directorate to her nephew and Trinamool general secretary Abhishek Banerjee, who is accused in the school jobs scam as well as in another case related to cow smuggling, and termed it as a bid to “browbeat a youth leader”.
“This is political vendetta. Summoning Abhishek is unnecessary harassment and this could boomerang. There is nothing against me. They want to damage the power of our youth wing. But the youth in Bengal will not tolerate it,” Banerjee said.
The Trinamool Congress chief, who has been engaged in a war of words with the Governor CV Ananda Bose over various issues, however, made light of the letter he sent her, saying he had simply sent her “best wishes for the upcoming foreign trip. I cannot spill the contents of a personal letter as it is confidential”.
On Tuesday, Ms Banerjee is beginning a visit to Dubai and Spain to seek investments.
“I am going abroad after five years since no permission was given to me for foreign travels, though I had several invitations,” she said.
Describing Ms Banerjee’s allegation of “vendetta politics” on ED summons to Abhishek Banerjee as “baseless”, the BJP wondered whether “creating obstacles in free and fair probe” is part of the political agenda of the ruling party in the state.
“Will the ED and Central Bureau of Investigation take permission from the Chief Minister and Abhishek Banerjee before summoning TMC leaders accused in various graft cases? Is creating obstacles in free and fair probe part of TMC’s political agenda when its leaders are summoned by the ED and the CBI,” BJP state spokesperson Samik Bhattacharya said.