Updated: June 18, 2021 4:25:15 am
West Bengal Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee on Thursday made light of the claims of continued post-poll violence in the state, labelling them as completely “baseless” and a “gimmick” by the BJP. Banerjee said the only incidents of violence took place during the Assembly polls when the law and order was in the hands of the Election Commission.
“There is no political violence in the state right now. There may have been one or two sporadic incidents, but those can’t be labelled as incidents of political violence,” she said.
Addressing reporters at Nabanna, the CM said, “They (BJP) talk about violence. Do you see any violence in Bengal? Some incidents took place during the election, but the Election Commission was in charge of law and order at the time. We condemn violence. However, this claim of political violence is a BJP gimmick. They should talk about UP where the dead bodies are floating in rivers.”
Claiming that she has instructed the police to maintain a zero-tolerance policy on violence, the CM said, “I don’t condone violence and have asked the police to take stern action against those who try to break law and order in the state. The BJP is trying to build a narrative that the law-and-order in Bengal is in a sorry state. It is a ploy to show us in a bad light after suffering a defeat in the election.”
Citing the recent horrific incident at a hospital in Agra in BJP-ruled Uttar Pradesh in which 22 Covid-19 patients died after oxygen supply was allegedly cut off during a mock drill, Mamata said, “They simply killed people by cutting off oxygen supply during a mock drill in a hospital (in Agra). Instead of Bengal, they should send central teams as well as human rights teams to these states. They are shameless as even after losing the election, they are conspiring against Bengal and its people.”
She alleged that the BJP wanted to divide Bengal, saying, “We will not allow ‘Banga Bhanga’ (partition of Bengal). Those trying to divide Bengal will be defeated by the strength of our unity.”
With Governor Jagdeep Dhankhar currently in New Delhi where he met Union Home Minister Amit Shah on Thursday and reportedly briefed him about the “deteriorating law and order situation and post-poll violence” in the state, the chief minister took a swipe at him, saying a “child can be cajoled into silence” but not an elderly man, noting that she has thrice written to Prime Minister Narendra Modi to withdraw him from the state.
Calling Governor Dhankhar a “Centre’s man”, Banerjee refrained from commenting much on his meeting with President Ram Nath Kovind and several other Union ministers in Delhi.
“What can I say? A child can be cajoled into silence. In this case, speech is silver; silence is golden,” she said.
Asked about media reports suggesting that the Dhankhar could be removed from the governorship, Banerjee said she is not aware of any such development.
“How do I know? When a Governor is appointed, the state government is consulted. That, however, was not done in this case… I have written twice or thrice to the Prime Minister seeking his withdrawal from the state,” she said.
The chief minister, when enquired if Raj Bhavan appointing several ‘officers on special duty’ has mounted pressure on the state exchequer, maintained that she wouldn’t have the details offhand.
The latest standoff between the Chief Minister and Governor has intensified over the last few days after Dhankhar accused Banerjee of being “silent” on post-poll violence in the state and not taking steps to rehabilitate and compensate the victims.
A letter he wrote to the chief minister hours before his departure to Delhi on Tuesday night read, “I am constrained to observe your continued silence and inaction over post-poll retributive bloodshed, violation of human rights, outrageous assault on the dignity of women, wanton destruction of property, the perpetuation of untold miseries on political opponents — worst since independence and it augurs ill for democracy.”
Meanwhile, the ruling Trinamool Congress claimed that Governor Dhankhar has shown himself to be a “BJP agent”.
“His act is condemnable and today he proved that he is a BJP agent. I don’t remember any BJP leader or minister meeting the NHRC chief in the recent past. But our Governor rushed to meet him. This only shows that he is not only crossing all limits but also acting against the Indian Constitution. He should be removed immediately,” the Trinamool said on Governor meeting Shah and reportedly “briefing” him about the allegations of post-poll violence in the state.
Left Front chairman and CPI(M) leader, Biman Bose, also slammed the Governor for allegedly acting like a BJP mouthpiece and condemned his “partisan” role.
“Whatever he is doing these days is not befitting of a Governor. He is crossing constitutional limits. He is acting as the BJP’s man.”
However, BJP president Dilip Ghosh backed Dhankhar.
“They (TMC) can’t stand the Governor and always find ways to criticise him. The Governor is doing the right thing, and that is why the TMC dispensation does not like it. The Centre appoints him, and it is obvious that he has to report various developments to the Union government,” Ghosh said.
— With PTI Inputs
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