September 9, 2021 5:55:58 am
Launching her campaign for the Bhabanipur Assembly bypoll, Trinamool Congress supremo Mamata Banerjee had a go at the Centre, accusing it of using central agencies to target the ruling party.
Breaking her silence on her nephew and the party’s all-India general secretary Abhishek Banerjee receiving fresh summons from the Enforcement Directorate (ED) less than 48 hours after being questioned by the sleuths in Delhi in connection with an alleged coal smuggling case, the West Bengal chief minister said,“In less than two days after being interrogated for nine hours, Abhishek has been asked to appear before the ED again. The Centre is using investigating agencies such as the ED and the CBI to finish off the Trinamool Congress in West Bengal.”
Addressing a workers’ meet at Ahindra Mancha in the Chetla area of south Kolkata on Wednesday, the first such event since being named the party’s nominee for the Bhabanipur by-election, the Trinamool chief said, “They (the BJP) have tried to weaken the Congress and silence leaders such as Sharad Pawar and Mulayam Singh Yadav by using the central agencies against them. But they will not find any success here. If there is a case against Abhishek, let them prove it. Can you be branded a thief unless you’re proven as one? Why was the case transferred from Kolkata to Delhi? Subrata Mukherjee (state panchayat minister) has been named in the Narada (sting tapes) case. I have talked to many lawyers about the case. There is nothing in it.”
On fellow party member Sobhandeb Chattopadhyay, who vacated the Bhabanipur seat for the CM, Mamata said, “He resigned (as Bhabanipur MLA) for me. He will continue as minister.” Chattopadhyay will contest the Khardaha Assembly seat, which fell vacant after the death of Trinamool MLA Kajal Sinha.
Mamata, who lost to BJP’s Suvendu Adhikari in the high-stakes battle for Nandigram in the Assembly polls earlier this year and has to win her home constituency in the September 30 bypoll if she has to remain CM, said, “I will file my nomination on Friday, September 10.”
Claiming that the BJP hatched many conspiracies to ensure her party’s defeat in the Assembly polls, Mamata said, “We only know how we fought against the odds to win the Assembly polls. The BJP brought goons from other states during the elections. I had to contest this bypoll as a conspiracy was hatched against me (in Nandigram). They attacked me as a result of which I was injured in the leg. My doctors advised bed-rest but I returned to campaign within three days.”
The Trinamool supremo chose not to contest the seat she won twice since 2011, putting herself in fray, instead, in Nandigram against her one-time-aide-turned-baiter. In a fight that went down to the wire and kept both camps interested till the last round of counting, Adhikari pipped Mamata by a narrow margin.
Last week, the Election Commission announced September 30 as the date for holding the Bhabanipur bypoll as well as the elections to the Jangipur and Samserganj Assembly segments that were deferred due to the death of candidates during the second wave of Covid-19.
Meanwhile, the CM on Wednesday urged Prime Minister Narendra Modi again to speak to the World Health Organisation (WHO) to ensure that the countrymade Covaxin gets due recognition as it would enable citizens, who have taken the vaccine, travel abroad. She said, “Many countries like Singapore are not allowing Indians (who have taken Covaxin shots to visit). The central government should look into this. They should talk to WHO officials and ask for Covaxin and (India-manufactured) Covishield to be recognised in every country.”
Invoking the PM’s upcoming US visit, the details of which haven’t been announced as yet, the chief minister said, “If America isn’t allowing Indians, who have received Covaxin shots, to visit, how is the Prime Minister going there?”
The Prime Minister has received both doses of the India-made vaccine.
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