Centre didn't help migrant workers, but turncoats were given chartered plane to fly to Delhi: Mamata

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(Eds: With additional details) Alipurduar (WB), Feb 3 (PTI) West Bengal Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee on Wednesday criticised 'BJP's brand of politics', and said it was an irony that the Centre did not have funds to bear the travel expenses of migrant workers, but corrupt leaders were flown to Delhi in a chartered plane.

The TMC supremo, training her guns at all deserters, said the turncoats would be defeated in the assembly polls.

She also asked the fence-sitters in the party to quit her camp as early as possible.

The CM, without naming former minister Rajib Banerjee -- who recently switched over to the BJP -- alleged that irregularities have been detected in the recruitment of forest department personnel during his tenure and said 'shops of corrupt leaders' will be shut after the polls.

'A person who was responsible for the recruitment of 'Bana Sahayaks' in the forest department indulged in corrupt methods. We will investigate it. Everything will be investigated. The person, after indulging in corruption, has now joined the BJP. He is now lecturing others,' she said.

Rajib Banerjee, a forest minister in the state cabinet, crossed over to the BJP last week.

He, along with other TMC defectors, flew to Delhi in a chartered plane to join the saffron camp.

The feisty TMC boss further claimed that only the 'greedy ones' are joining the saffron party.

'Those who want to leave the party can go ahead. The doors are open. But if you are in the party, you have to work as a disciplined soldier. Let me tell you, the ones who have switched political allegiance will be defeated in the assembly polls, their shops will be closed after the polls,' she said.

The BJP can buy some corrupt leaders, but it can never buy a dedicated member or cadre of the TMC, she asserted, while addressing a party meeting here.

'There are certain leaders who are lobhi (greedy) and 'bhogi' (one who enjoys facilities) They might quit the party, but the dedicated ones will stay,' she said.

Claiming that MLA tickets are up for sale in the BJP, Banerjee said that her party, on the other hand, 'rewards hard work and dedication'.

She iterated that the BJP had turned itself into washing machine, where 'so-called tainted leaders come out clean after joining the saffron camp'.

Taking a dig at the BJP for sending a chartered plane to fly TMC turncoats to Delhi for induction in the saffron camp, Banerjee said the prime minister owes an explanation to the nation why it could not bear the travel expenditure of migrant workers, even when his government had enough to transport corrupt leaders by air.

'During the COVID crisis, we paid for the transportation of migrant workers. The BJP government did not pay any money. The prime minister could not spend money on migrant labourers, who walked hundreds of kilometres to reach their homes. More than 100 such workers have died on roads.

'But the Union government has money to fly corrupt leaders to New Delhi in chartered planes. The prime minister should give a reply... This shows the BJP governments colours,' she said.

Terming the BJP as a 'party of liars', Banerjee said, 'Narendra Modi, before 2014 elections, had promised to deposit Rs 15 lakh in every citizen's bank account, but has anyone received a single rupee yet? The answer is no'.

The chief minister, raking up the 'insider versus outsider' debate, also said that people of Bengal will rule this state, and not those coming from Gujarat.

He assured people that they 'do not need any certificate from the BJP' to stay in Bengal, and the citizenship law, for that matter, would not be able to evict them from the land they belong to.

'All refugee colonies of the state have been recognised by the government. We have already started the process of granting landholding certificates to families No one can oust you from here. You were born here and you are a citizen of this country. You don't need the BJP's certificate to prove your citizenship,' she added.

Reacting to the CM's assertion against Rajib Banerjee, the BJP accused her of 'pursuing vendetta politics to settle scores' with those who have switched over.

'When Rajib Banerjee was with the TMC, and part of the state cabinet, he happened to be a person of immaculate character. Now that he has joined the BJP, he became corrupt.

'If indeed he was involved in corruption, then why no action was taken against him so far? The people of the state understand such tricks very well,' the safron party's state vice-president Jaiprakash Majumdar said. PTI PNT RMS RMS