(With additional inputs) Kolkata, Feb 21 (PTI) The poll-bound West Bengal's political cauldron was on the boil Sunday over CBI summons to TMC MP Abhishek Banerjee's wife in coal pilferage scam, triggering political slugfest with the TMC accusing the BJP of pursuing political vendetta and the saffron party urging it not to politicise the matter.
During the day, a CBI team went to the Kolkata residence of Abhishek Banerjee, TMC MP and Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee's nephew, serving a notice to his wife and his sister-in-law to join the probe in the coal pilferage case.
Leading the party's assault against the saffron party, Mamata Banerjee said they can't be cowed by such tactics.
'Don't try to intimidate us with jail; we have fought against guns and are not afraid of fighting against rats,' a fuming TMC supremo said at an event soon after the CBI action.
Challenging the saffron camp without naming them, the feisty TMC boss said they have not learnt to lose.
'As long as there is life in me, I will not be afraid of any intimidation,' Banerjee said at a programme here on the International Mother Language Day.
'Let there be challenge in (20)21, let us see whose strength is more; there will be only one game in (20)21 and I will be the goalkeeper in that match and want to see who wins and who loses,' Banerjee said.
'We have not learnt to lose, and they won't be able to defeat us,' Banerjee said without naming anyone.
Just hours after the summons was served, Abhishek, in a tweet, said, 'If they think they can use these ploys to intimidate us, they are mistaken. We are not the ones who would ever be cowed.
'We have full faith in the law of the land,' he said, attaching a copy of the CBI notice in the tweet.
The TMC top brass alleged that development came a day before a designated MP/MLA court summoned Union Home Minister Amit Shah in West Bengal in connection with a defamation case lodged against him by Trinamool Congress MP Abhishek.
'Just because their leader Amit Shah has been summoned in a defamation case and his scheduled date of appearance is on February 22. That is why the BJP is now using the CBI to divert attention and is pursuing vendetta politics,' TMC leader Kunal Ghosh said.
A designated MP/MLA court in West Bengal on Friday issued summons to Shah on Friday to appear either personally or through a lawyer before it on February 22 in connection with a defamation case lodged against him by Trinamool Congress MP Abhishek Banerjee.
The special judge of MP/MLA court at Bidhannagar directed that Shah is required to appear 'in person/by pleader' at 10 am on February 22.
Echoing Ghosh, TMC minister Firhad Hakim said the BJP, is apprehensive of defeat and is now targeting wives and daughters of political rivals.
'They have stooped so low that they are now targeting wives and daughters of political rivals. It only shows their true character,' he said.
Soon after the CBI team's news visiting Abhishek's residence was flashed, several TMC activists gathered near his residence 'Santiniketan' in South Kolkata.
After the CBI team left, a huge police contingent cordoned off the area to avoid any untoward incident.
The BJP said the TMC was trying to politicise the matter.
'If someone has committed any wrong, then the law will take its course. Those who are culprits should be punished. No one should try to politicise the matter,' BJP national general secretary Kailash Vijayvargiya told PTI.
State BJP spokesperson said Shamik Bhattacharya wondered why the TMC leadership is so perplexed with the summons.
'Why is TMC so worried and tensed if they have committed no wrong? If the CBI acts, then it becomes political vendetta; if the CBI doesn't act, we hear accusations of political match-fixing of TMC-BJP.
'Let the CBI do its job; if someone has not committed a crime, then there is nothing to worry about,' Bhattacharya said.
State Congress president Adhir Chowdhury said the CBI should conduct its investigation without any political interference.
After having a limited presence in the politically polarised Bengal for decades, the BJP has emerged as the ruling Trinamool Congress's main rival by winning 18 of the 42 Lok Sabha seats in West Bengal 2019 general elections, only four short of TMC's tally of 22.
With the BJP's strength increasing in the state in the last few years, its leaders are upbeat that the party will be able to end Banerjee's 10-year rule in the state polls.
Election to the 294-member state Assembly is due in April-May this year. PTI PNT SNS SNS