Trinamool Congress chairperson Mamata Banerjee on Friday said Bengal would “firmly stand” by any forces united to resist the BJP.
In her hour-long speech at the 24th Martyrs’ Day programme in central Kolkata, Ms. Banerjee indicated that the Trinamool would work closely with the Congress and anti-BJP parties. Ms. Banerjee asked her party workers to maintain a vigil to counter “hate mongering on social media.”
On July 21, 1993, during the erstwhile Left Front’s government, the Kolkata Police had opened fire on a Youth Congress demonstration, killing 13 persons. The Trinamool commemorates the event as Martyrs Day.
Stating that a nationwide coalition against the BJP has started taking a shape, Ms. Banerjee said the result of the presidential election was an indicator. While the BJP candidate got 65% of the votes, the Opposition nominee got 35%, which was “not bad at all”, she said.
Ms. Banerjee said 18 opposition parties had come together and supported opposition candidate Meira Kumar.
“This platform has been expanded and we are also fighting together in vice-presidential poll. It is just a beginning. This platform will expand in future to defeat the BJP, which thinks that it will have a cakewalk for it in the 2019 Lok Sabha polls. Things will not be that easy (for the BJP),” she said.
She indicated that TMC is being targeted by the Central Government through various probes as the party is capable of counter attacking on political fronts. But her leaders have done “no wrong and the allegations are concocted,” she reiterated.
“They [central agencies] are calling our leaders to interrogate [in financial and cash-on-camera scam] and humiliate them before the Martyr’s Day programme, but nothing really is coming out. The question is why the cases are continuing for so long,” Ms Banerjee said. She warned that if the cases are “not properly conducted then TMC would file defamation cases of hundreds of crores for harassment.”
Ms. Banerjee announced that the Trinamool would launch a “BJP Quit India” programme from August 9 the day Congress’ Quit India movement was launched in 1942 by Mahatma Gandhi.
The BJP’s economic policies are failing, while allegations of corruption are growing. To cover up the failures of policies like demonetisation or Goods and Services Tax [GST] and “Vyapam, Petroleum or Defence scams” the BJP was organising riots, she alleged.
”Police will form area-centric peace teams and you — the supporters and workers of TMC — will work with them and resist any attempt to organise riots,” Ms Banerjee said.
She also urged her workers to “watch social media carefully” so the messages of hatred cannot be spread.
“You [workers] are the gatekeepers of Facebook, Twitter and social media. You have to watch carefully who is posting what and accordingly bring it to the notice of the administrators. But, you never indulge in spreading rumours,” she said.
“While people of various caste and community are safe in Bengal, in Delhi even Prof. Amartya Sen is not. Even a journalist like Paranjoy [Guha Thakurta, who recently resigned as editor of the Economic and Political Weekly ] had to resign as someone raised an eyebrow, while the Censor Board is preventing people from exercising their rights,” Ms Banerjee said. The relationship with neighbouring countries like Bhutan, Nepal and Bangladesh has deteriorated during BJP rule, she argued.
On the 1993 police firing, Ms Banerjee said the inquiry commission had submitted its report and her government “would initiate action” against those who found responsible. However, Buddhadeb Bhattacharya and Jyoti Basu would not be charged “out of courtesy,” she said.