After one and a half months, West Bengal chief minister Mamata Banerjee spoke to the media, on a day when raids by the Enforcement Directorate (ED) were conducted at the residence of one of her ministers in an alleged ration distribution corruption case, while the Lok Sabha Ethics Committee carried out a hearing on the cash-for-query case against Trinamool Congress MP Mahua Moitra.
Mamata Banerjee attacked the Centre, saying if something happens to minister Jyoti Priya Mallick, then she would initiate an FIR against the central agency as well as the BJP. “Mallick is not keeping well. He has high sugar levels. If he dies, we would lodge an FIR against the BJP and the ED. Earlier TMC MP Sultan Ahmed had suffered a cardiac arrest and died after being summoned by the CBI. The wife of TMC MP Prasun Banerjee also died. This is limitless harassment. The people will give a reply,” she said.
Banerjee also hit out at the authorities for not inscribing the name of Rabindranath Tagore on the plaques of UNESCO ‘World Heritage Site’ at Visva-Bharati University in Santiniketan and warned of widespread demonstrations there if those were not replaced by Friday morning.
“It is only for Tagore that Santiniketan got the UNESCO tag and you have removed his name from the plaques. We were silent because of the Durga Puja celebrations. If you do not remove the plaques and put up new ones with the Nobel Laureate’s name by 10 am tomorrow, our people will launch a demonstration holding Kobiguru’s photos to their chests,” she said.
A controversy erupted after the university authorities put up marble plaques bearing the names of Prime Minister Narendra Modi, who is also the chancellor of the varsity, and vice-chancellor Bidyut Chakrabarty, but did not have any mention of Tagore.
While the TMC chairperson was clearly in a combative mood, observers pointed out that although she openly backed her minister Jyoti Priya Mallick, she did not say a word about Mahua Moitra’s situation.
Sources say that the party is keeping a close watch on the proceedings of the Ethics Committee and everyone has been told not to give any reaction on the matter.
They added that the TMC asked for a clarification from Mahua and she gave it.
According to analysts, this indicates that Mahua may have to fight her battle on her own as the party may not openly support her. She has been asked to appear before the Ethics Committee on October 31.
Observers said that the TMC does not usually take any action against one of its leaders facing charges from agencies until some evidence comes out in the open, like visuals of cash recovered from now-suspended minister and leader Partha Chatterjee’s properties.
Speaking to News18, BJP’s Bengal president Sukanta Majumdar said, “Jyoti Priya Mallick’s scam is big and a lot of other members of Kalighat (the locality in Kolkata where Mamata Banerjee lives) might get affected. That’s why she came out and spoke. On the other hand, Mahua has done it in a personal capacity. The party, therefore, is not with her and there is a chance that she may not get a ticket.”