West Bengal Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee Wednesday instructed Trinamool Congress MPs to speak against the Centre’s policies in Parliament in a manner which is “bold but cool” and refrain from using harsh language against anyone.
Banerjee drew the line during a meeting with the party’s MPs at veteran leader Saugata Roy’s residence. Former chief of the Congress’s Tripura unit Pijush Kanti Biswas joined the TMC during the meeting, with the party continuing its attempts to make inroads in the state ahead of the Assembly polls scheduled in early 2023.
Banerjee underlined that the TMC is willing to cooperate with all Opposition parties provided it gets support from others. Sources said Banerjee also told the MPs to adopt a “national outlook instead of just focusing on West Bengal” while making their interventions.
“She made five broad points, including the need to be mindful about language. She categorically asked the MPs to refrain from making harsh or abusive remarks. Leaders have also been asked to keep the party in the loop before speaking to the press. And more importantly, each and every MP has been asked to speak, instead of only a handful of them talking on all issues,” a source said.
Banerjee’s intervention is in line with the TMC, over the last few months, subtly reorienting its strategy, moving away from direct attacks against Prime Minister Narendra Modi. This reorientation coincides with the TMC battling a series of crises on home turf Bengal, ranging from arrests of its top leaders in corruption cases to Enforcement Directorate (ED) proceedings against her nephew and MP Abhishek Banerjee.
Speaking to reporters after the meeting, Banerjee accused the BJP-led Union government of “bulldozing states” and attempting to introduce “some dangerous Bills during the Winter Session”. She named the Multi-State Cooperative Societies (Amendment) Bill, 2022, and the Cantonment Bill, 2022, in this regard.
The Multi-State Cooperative Societies (Amendment) Bill, to reform the cooperative sector and bring “transparency”, was introduced in the Lok Sabha on Wednesday amid protests by the Opposition, which demanded that it be referred to a standing committee. The Opposition alleges that the Centre is trying to encroach on the territory of states through the Bill.
The purpose of the Cantonment Bill is to “impart greater democratization, modernization and efficiency (in) the administration of cantonments”.
“So many Bills are coming. There are some dangerous Bills also, which will curb the democratic status of states and the federal structure. We have seen that when the Opposition raises its voice, because of its big majority, the ruling party passes Bills forcefully, even without any voting,” Banerjee said.
The CM added that she is concerned over the future of parliamentary democracy in India, while reminding the Centre that the House represents the interests of states as well.
“Parliament cannot turn a deaf ear to states. We have seen such things in the past. Even now the intention is there (to get Bills passed forcefully). I have seen the list of Bills, which includes many where states have direct stakes. Democracy has so many leaders, parties, ideologies, a majority does not mean you can bulldoze states and Opposition voices, the media. It is easy to bulldoze, but it must be kept in mind that a party may come and go, but this Parliament and the Constitution will go on forever,” she said.