Central agencies targeting opposition will be after BJP post-2024 polls: Mamata

Central agencies targeting opposition will be after BJP post-2024 polls: Mamata

Kolkata, Nov 23 (PTI) Central agencies currently targeting opposition leaders will be after the BJP post-2024 Lok Sabha polls, West Bengal Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee claimed on Thursday, asserting that the government at the Centre will last for three more months.

Lashing out against the BJP, Banerjee told party workers that the saffron party was trying to saffronise even sports, while the central government was targeting opposition leaders.

Addressing TMC workers at the Netaji Indoor Stadium here, she said after the arrest of her party's leaders in different cases, the expulsion of MP Mahua Moitra was being planned but it would eventually help her before the elections.

'Central agencies targeting opposition leaders at present will go after the BJP following the 2024 elections,' she told party workers.

Issuing a stern warning to BJP, Banerjee said, 'If you arrest four of us, we will arrest eight of you,' in response to the perceived misuse of central agencies in apprehending TMC leaders on false corruption charges.

Asserting that the government at the Centre has only 'three more months,' Banerjee firmly stood by arrested party leaders, contending, 'They have committed no wrong and are victims of vendetta politics.' She criticised the deployment of the CBI and ED to intimidate the Trinamool Congress and other political figures, cautioning that these officers would turn against the ruling party in the coming days.

Banerjee underscored the imprisonment of four TMC MLAs, accusing the BJP of attempting to diminish the party's MLAs.

She declared her intent 'to arrest eight BJP leaders for their alleged involvement in murder and other criminal cases.' 'Four of my MLAs have been jailed and branded as thieves as a part of their attempts to reduce the number of MLAs we have. I will arrest 8 of their leaders for being involved in murder and other criminal cases,' Banerjee said.

Her remarks drew sharp reactions from the BJP, which said the chief minister is 'issuing threats.' 'This is a blatant threat. We will lodge a police complaint against such remarks,' Leader of the Opposition, Suvendu Adhikari, said Breaking her silence on the 'cash-for-query' allegation against TMC MP Mahua Moitra, Banerjee said plans were in the works to expel her from Parliament but any such action would help the lawmaker from Krishnanagar ahead of the 2024 Lok Sabha elections.

'Now, they are planning to expel Mahua (from Parliament). She will become more popular as a result. Whatever she used to say inside (Parliament), she will now say those things outside. Would anyone do something like this three months before the elections if he is not stupid?' Banerjee said.

The statement in favour of Moitra is being seen as a clear message of support for the beleaguered TMC MP fighting allegations of 'cash for query'.

Banerjee also claimed that the BJP-led government wants to do away with reservations and maintained that she will oppose it.

'BJP is also against the reservation for minorities, but we will bring them under the system through OBC quota,' she added.

The CM also alleged that attempts of 'saffronising' the country were underway in full swing -- from Metro railway stations to the cricket team.

'Saffron is the colour of 'tyagis', but you are 'bhogis',' she said, targeting the BJP, claiming that players resisted, as a result, the Indian cricket team did not have to wear the saffron practice jersey during matches.

'They are trying to paint the entire country saffron. We are proud of our Indian players, and I believe that we would have won the World Cup if the finals had taken place in Kolkata or Wankhede (in Mumbai),' she said.

Continuing her attack on the BJP, Banerjee said that wherever sinners go, they take along their sins.

'The Indian team played so well that they won all the matches in the World Cup, except the one attended by the sinners,' she said, without naming anyone.

Earlier, Congress leader Rahul Gandhi, in a poll speech in Rajasthan, had used the 'panauti' barb against PM Narendra Modi as he had attended the World Cup final which India lost to Australia after 10 consecutive wins in the tournament.

The BJP has demanded action by the Election Commission against Gandhi for his comment.

Banerjee also attacked the Centre over the state of the country's economy.

'The banking sector is in the doldrums and PSUs are being sold,' she said, noting that the unemployment rate was also very high.

She took on the BJP over the allegations of cow smuggling to Bangladesh through West Bengal.

'Cows for smuggling to Bangladesh are brought from different states, including UP. Who takes the cut there,' she asked.

The chief minister said that West Bengal was fast evolving as a destination for investment.

'All big IT companies are investing in Kolkata's 'Silicon Valley' project,' she said.

Criticising Governor C V Ananda Bose for delays in processing bills, Banerjee accused the Raj Bhavan occupant of behaving like a feudal lord.

'The palatial Rajbaris (Governor House) are now occupied by zamindars. Bills are not being passed. They are not even listening to the Supreme Court which mentioned that if things are decided between CM and governor, the apex court has no issue. I did go to meet but a note was sent later saying the matter is sub-judice,' she said.

She condemned the misuse of government funds for travel and dining while struggling to pass a single bill, likening the situation to a dictatorship reminiscent of Hitler's era.

'It seems as if dictators are sitting here – Hitler’s spirit. Hitler is not here but new zamindars have come up and are setting up a new version of zamindari,' she said.

Articulating the party's strategy for the ongoing agitation demanding clearance of the state's dues under the MGNREGA by the central government, Banerjee announced plans to visit the national capital in mid-December.

She said, 'In the second or third week of December, when the Parliament is in session, I will go to Delhi with all my MPs and try to seek an appointment with the Prime Minister to press for our demands. If our demands are not met, then we will hit the streets in Delhi.' While Banerjee criticized the CPI(M) for allegedly assisting the BJP in the state, she remained silent on the Congress.

'There was a day you questioned Rajiv Gandhi’s Bofors. But how many deals have you done in foreign countries for planes? Kashipur Gun & Shell factory does not get any orders. From Air India to other public sector companies, everything has been sold. How much money have you earned?,' she said, noting that the unemployment rate was also very high. PTI PNT JRC SOM NN MNB

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