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Central agencies threatening TMC leaders, asking them to join BJP: Mamata

twitter-logo PTI        Last Updated: July 21, 2019  | 23:13 IST

Kolkata, Jul 21 (PTI) West Bengal Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee Sunday accused the Centre of using its agencies to subjugate TMC leaders and elected representatives with threats of imprisonment to force them to join the BJP or lure them into the saffron party through blandishment and bribery. Addressing Martyrs' Day rally here, she also charged BJP with trying to replicate "Karnataka model of horse-trading" by luring party MLAs with money and other perks. The BJP, however, dared Banerjee to name the CBI officers who had allegedly threatened TMC leaders to join the saffron camp and denied her other charges. The CM, speaking at her first major political rally after Lok Sabha polls that have given BJP an edge, also announced that the party will launch a statewide programme on July 26, demanding return of black money "siphoned off" by BJP. The move is apparently aimed at weakening the "cut money" protests faced by TMC's elected representatives from people demanding return of illegal commission they had allegedly collected from beneficiaries of government schemes. "Central agencies are summoning our leaders and threatening elected representatives over chit fund scams, asking them to get in touch with BJP leaders or face prison terms and face consequences like Sudip Bandopadhyay or Tapas Pal. They are also calling a few actors and other eminent personalities," she claimed. Bandopadhyay, TMC's LS party leader, and Pal, a former party MP, were arrested by CBI in the Rose Valley ponzi scam in January 2017 and December 2016. Currently both are out on bail. "BJP is offering Rs 2 crore and a petrol pump to our MLAs to switch sides. At Gram Sabha-level, the amount offered is Rs 20 lakh. Just like in Karnataka, it is indulging in horse-trading everywhere, and trying to replicate that model. BJP thinks it can buy out everybody," she alleged. State BJP chief Dilip Ghosh, was quick to hit back, saying "I challenge her to name the CBI officers who threatened her party leaders. If she is unable to name any officer, she should refrain from making baseless allegations". Reacting to Banerjee's charge that BJP, Ghosh said none of them, not even CM, had such a "high market value". The TMC chief asked party cadres to launch a movement against BJP demanding "return of black money and cut money taken in Ujjawala scheme" from July 26. While criticising BJP and its policies during her 60-minute speech, she did not take names of Prime Minister Narendra Modi or BJP president Amit Shah. "I had a noble intention when I cautioned my partymen to ensure that people are not deprived of our government's welfare schemes.... But BJP misinterpreted it," she said. She asked BJP from where did it get the money to campaign for the general election in such a luxurious way. "Ask BJP to return the black money first. They had promised to give back Rs 15 lakh. Where is that money? Return the cut money taken in Rafale deal," the TMC chief said. "From July 26, we would launch a statewide agitation demanding return black money and return cut money taken by BJP leaders, while providing free LPG connections to poor...We have received complaints from leaders of their party (the BJP). We have all documents and would very soon start an investigation into it," Banerjee said. Ghosh said BJP is not afraid of any probe as none of its leaders are involved in corruption. The CM asserted that her party would bounce back in 2021 Assembly polls, and alleged that BJP won the LS polls by "manipulating" EVMs. "The 2019 election result is not history, but a mystery. I request EC to conduct the next panchayat and municipal polls through ballot paper," she said. Banerjee claimed BJP government at the Centre would not last "more than two years", considering the way it was functioning. "Credit for smooth conduct of Parliament goes to opposition parties, not those in power. They are bringing bills at midnight and passing it without any prior information (given to opposition)," she said. The CM also criticised BJP government in Uttar Pradesh for the Sonbhadra killings and detention of Congress leader Priyanka Gandhi. "If three persons are killed in West Bengal, a report is placed in Parliament, saying the figure is 30," she claimed. BJP was behaving as if it had captured West Bengal by winning "just" 18 of 42 seats in LS polls (the TMC won 22 seats), she said, adding that "it is trying to take over our party offices and beating up our people. We, too, had won in 2009 Lok Sabha polls by getting 26 seats during Left rule, but we never behaved in such a manner". She dubbed BJP as "a party of parasites" which is banking on goons and "rejected" leaders of CPI(M) and Congress. "We don't need CPI(M) and Congress to fight BJP. But, we will urge them to not cut off the branch on which they are sitting," she said, alleging that BJP-led central government was trying to prevent TMC supporters from coming to the rally by cancelling several trains to Kolkata. Ghosh, however, said more special trains were put into service Sunday. Spelling out guidelines for party workers, Banerjee asked them to not "leave an inch of space to BJP", and be more humble to people and apologise for mistakes committed in the past. On Banerjee's allegation of horse-trading, CPI(M) said TMC is being paid back in their own coin. "In previous July 21 rallies of TMC, we used to witness CPI(M) and Congress MLAs and leaders joining TMC. Now, they are facing the music," senior CPI(M) leader Sujan Chakraborty said. PTI PNT NN KJ

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