Central Agencies Threatening TMC Leaders to Join BJP: Mamata

West Bengal Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee on Sunday, 21 July, alleged that central agencies are threatening TMC leaders and elected representatives with prison term in chit fund scam cases, if they don't join the BJP.

Addressing the Martyrs' Day rally in Kolkata, the Trinamool Congress (TMC) chief accused the saffron party of luring TMC MLAs with money and other perks.

"“Central agencies are threatening our leaders and elected representatives over chit fund scams, asking them to get in touch with the BJP leaders or face prison.”" - West Bengal CM Mamata Banerjee

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"The BJP is offering Rs 2 crore and a petrol pump to our MLAs to switch over... Just like in Karnataka, the BJP is indulging in horse trading everywhere. It is trying to replicate this model here, too," she alleged.

Reacting to her allegations, West Bengal BJP president Dilip Ghosh dared Banerjee to name the CBI officers who had allegedly threatened TMC leaders to join the saffron camp. She, however, had not named any central agency.

The Central Bureau of Investigation (CBI) and the Enforcement Directorate (ED) are separately probing two multi-crore-rupee Ponzi scheme cases in West Bengal.

MAMATA SAYS RAIL SERVICES CURTAILED, RAILWAYS REFUTES CHARGE

She also claimed rail services were curtailed to stop people from attending her rally, even as the Railways maintained that it was running a number of special trains in addition to the ones scheduled for the day.

RETURN BALLOT PAPERS: MAMATA CALLS LOK SABHA ELECTIONS A ‘MYSTERY’

She also requested the EC to conduct Panchayat and Municipal elections with ballot paper instead of EVMs.

“We tell the BJP, first return the black money you used in the elections. Return the black money and cut money – all that you have taken till now – and used for winning elections,” Banerjee said.

"“The Lok Sabha election in 2019 is a mystery, not history. We don’t want EVMs. We want the ballot box to be brought back. We want to tell the Election Commission in the state that municipality and other elections should be done via ballot boxes.” " - Mamata Banerjee, Chief Minister of West Bengal

Banerjee’s nephew, Abhishek Banerjee also joined her call against EVMs in the rally.

He said, “Return democracy, we want ballots not (EVM) machines.”

WHY IS THIS SIGNIFICANT?

The Martyrs' Day rally is organised by the party every year on July 21 in the memory of 13 Youth Congress activists killed in police firing in 1993 during the Left Front regime in West Bengal. Banerjee was a leader of the Youth Congress at that time.

This time rally is being held in the backdrop of BJP's impressive performance in the Lok Sabha polls in which the party won 18 of the 42 seats in the state, only four less than the ruling TMC.

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THE CONFLICT

BJP state president and MP Dilip Ghosh directed party workers to not allow TMC leaders to leave for Kolkata to participate in the rally if they did not return the "cut money" they had collected from people.

“We will not allow any of the TMC leaders to leave for tomorrow’s rally if they do not return the cut money they had taken from people. We will drag them out of the buses,” said Ghosh, also an MP.

Following this, TMC leader and minister Chandrima Bhattacharya lodged an FIR against Ghosh.

TMC MP and Mamata’s nephew Abhishek Banerjee, speaking to The Quint, said that BJP will “not be allowed to divide Bengal.”

"“Dilip Ghosh, you will never get our workers on your side. We uprooted a Left Front government that was in power for 34 years, tomorrow we will defeat the BJP as well. TMC will end this fight, BJP will not be allowed to divide Bengal on communal lines.”" - Abhishek Banerjee, TMC MP

Around 5,000 policemen will be deployed to look after security at the rally and maintain normality.

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(With inputs from PTI)

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