West Bengal Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee kicked off her election campaign for the Bhabanipur Assembly constituency with a low-key meeting of party workers but in her agenda-setting speech, she attacked the BJP for unleashing central agencies against political adversaries and directly blamed the prime minister and home minister for it.
“They have trapped the Congress using the agencies, they have trapped Mulayam Singh using agencies, they have trapped Sharad Pawar using agencies,” Ms Banerjee said. “Narendra Modi and Amit Shah are behind it. The moment elections were declared, the agencies started dancing. Abhishek (Banerjee) got a notice, Partha Chatterjee got a notice, even before elections were declared Bobby and Subrata Mukherjee got notices,” she added.
TMC general secretary Abhishek Banerjee was questioned by Enforcement Directorate in Delhi on Monday. Minister Partha Chatterjee is summoned by CBI in a chit fund case and Bobby Firhad Hakim and Subrata Mukherjee, also ministers, are summoned in the Narada bribery case.
“Abhishek was quizzed for nine hours one day and now they want to quiz him again. Why is a case registered in Kolkata now moved to Delhi,” Ms Banerjee asked.
Without naming TMC turned BJP leader Suvendu Adhikari, she said, “The person who actually took money in the Narada case, he has no case against him. Why? Why can’t he be questioned by Bengal police? Is he the son of a God? If he can decide where and when police can question him, we too must have the same right.”
The BJP state chief Dilip Ghosh said, “There is no such thing as a fake thief and real thief. We have seen people taking money on screen. Why can’t they be questioned? Others may be questioned later But those summoned should explain. No one has been declared guilty yet but they are scared they will be caught so they are saying such things.”
The BJP is yet to declare the name of its Bhabanipur candidate. Dilip Ghosh, who yesterday admitted some potential candidates had refused to contest Bhabanipur, today said BJP would declare its candidate in a day or two. A list of probable candidates had been sent to the head office. “The BJP will fight at Bhabanipur with full force. MPs and MLAs will be deployed to work in the constituency,” he said.
The Left Front named its candidate today, a 31-year-old lawyer, Srijeeb Biswas. CPM leader Sujan Chakraborty said “Bhabanipur has traditionally been a Congress seat. But now that they have said they will not field a candidate, we are doing so. We believe it is our duty to draw all anti-BJP and anti-TMC votes away from those parties.”
In her speech today, Ms Banerjee asked her party workers not to take the Bhabanipur bypolls lightly. “There was a conspiracy against me in Nandigram. There could be conspiracies against me here too. The Bhabanipur election is very important in the context of 2024. We must win.”