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Friday, June 18, 2021

For Bengal, can touch PM’s feet, but don’t humiliate me: Mamata Banerjee

Targeting Prime Minister Narendra Modi for “creating confusion and confrontation”, Banerjee said she was even ready to touch his feet, for the sake of Bengal, if he were to ask her.

By: Express News Service | Kolkata, New Delhi |
Updated: May 30, 2021 7:03:58 am
Mamata BanerjeeWest Bengal Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee during a meeting on cyclone Yaas at Nabanna. (Express Photo)

A day after she skipped a cyclone review meeting called by the Prime Minister and the Centre ordered the state Chief Secretary to Delhi, West Bengal Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee said Saturday that she was being “insulted” and “humiliated” by the BJP-led government at the Centre which was unable to “digest” her party’s landslide win in the Assembly elections.

Targeting Prime Minister Narendra Modi for “creating confusion and confrontation”, Banerjee said she was even ready to touch his feet, for the sake of Bengal, if he were to ask her.

“You cannot digest the defeat. That is why from Day One, you started this type of action… If the Prime Minister tells me, ‘you touch my feet, I will help Bengal’, that also I am ready to do. But please don’t humiliate me like this. Don’t insult me like this. Don’t defame Bengal… One-sided manipulation, news manipulation, you are giving from the PM House, and you are pressuring the press to carry the news,” she said.

She called the Centre’s requisitioning of Chief Secretary Alapan Bandyopadhyay — he had just been granted a three-month tenure extension – an act of “political vendetta”.

“Do you have any courtesy? You have called him (Chief Secretary) on his last day… What was his fault? You are not only disturbing me, but you are also disturbing my secretariat. Why are you behaving like this? We won by a landslide. Is that your worry?” she said.

On the cyclone review meeting called by the Prime Minister Friday while he was in the state, she said what was to be a CM-PM meeting was revised and political persons were brought in – she was referring to the presence at the meeting of Suvendu Adhikari, a friend-turned-foe who defeated her in Nandigram to become the Leader of Opposition.

She accused the PMO of circulating photographs of empty chairs at the meeting, but not of her waiting for the Prime Minister and speaking to him later.

She said she was in Sagar Friday afternoon and there was a delay of 20 minutes for permission to fly to Kalaikunda. When they were over Kalaikunda, they again had to wait for security reasons before they could land. On the road too, said, they were made to wait for another 20 minutes.

She said she didn’t have a problem with that because it had to do with the PM’s security. “When we reached there, we saw that the Prime Minister was already there… we thought it our duty to meet him and… submit our report.” She said the Chief Secretary was with her and “Bibek Sahay, our chief of security… asked the SPG… please tell the PM and convey that the CM wants to meet him for only one minute to hand over the report on the cyclone, she will not disturb. Then they said, ‘One hour ke baad boliye. Abhi kuchh nahi hoga’… we were sitting quietly.”

She said the Chief Secretary and she decided to go to the conference room. After handing the report to the Prime Minister, she said, she took his permission to leave for Digha since the weather was dipping and they had another meeting to attend.

Meanwhile, Suvendu Adhikari hit back at Banerjee, saying the Chief Minister and the Chief Secretary had insulted the Prime Minister by not attending the meeting he had called.

“The way our Chief Minister insulted the honourable Prime Minister yesterday is unprecedented. This has never happened in any state of the country. The Chief Secretary supported her, maybe out of compulsion. There is a code of conduct for IAS and IPS officers, but sadly the bureaucracy has been politicised in Bengal… Mamata Banerjee must abide by the Constitution. She is trying to show her arrogance and is indulging in petty politics,” Adhikari told reporters.

He said he had been invited to the review meeting in his capacity as the Leader of Opposition in the Assembly and the MLA of cyclone-affected Nandigram area.

“She is sharing misinformation. The Leader of the Opposition in Odisha Assembly was invited to their review meeting as well. Sadly, the leader could not attend as he was Covid-19 positive. Mamata Banerjee is not telling the truth,” he said.

In New Delhi, the Opposition Congress targeted the Centre over the recall of the Chief Secretary.

“This is a lethal blow to the Constitution of India, as also federalism. If the Union Government is permitted to recall All India Service Officers from the states for bipartisan political considerations and at its whims and fancies, the entire architecture of the rule of law and the Constitution will crumble,” Congress communication department head Randeep Surjewala said.

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