West Bengal Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee on Sunday alleged that democratic powers were being seized by a “section of people” and warned it could lead to a presidential form of government in the country, PTI reported.

The Trinamool Congress chief urged the judiciary to “save democracy” and to ensure that the federal structure of the country remains intact.

She made the comments while addressing the convocation ceremony of the West Bengal National University of Juridical Sciences in Kolkata. Chief Justice of India UU Lalit, who is the chancellor of the university, Chief Justice of Calcutta High Court Prakash Shrivastava and Chief Justice of Bangladesh Hasan Foez Siddique, were present at the event.

“The judiciary must save the people from injustice and hear their cries,” Banerjee said in her address, ANI reported. “Now, people are crying behind closed doors. Where is democracy?”

The Trinamool Congress chief congratulated Lalit, saying he has restored the faith of the citizens in the judiciary in a few months. “I am not saying people had lost their faith in the judiciary, but nowadays the situation has gone from bad to worse,” she added.

She accused journalists of conducting media trials and making accusations against persons even before the judges deliver their verdicts. “Judiciary is the highest, media cannot control judiciary,” Banerjee added. “Our only prestige is our respect... it cannot come back if it is taken away.”

Union Law Minister Kiren Rijiju and Opposition parties in West Bengal criticised Banerjee, saying that the chief minister does not know what democracy is.

“Mamata didi is telling the truth about West Bengal because TMC [Trinamool Congress] party has scant regard for the judiciary and no respect for the judges,” Rijiju said. “Democracy is bleeding, and crying in West Bengal.”

West Bengal Pradesh Congress Committee chief Adhir Ranjan Chowdhury alleged that the Trinamool Congress was making attempts to “indirectly pressurise the judicial system”, NDTV reported.

Communist Party of India (Marxist) MP Bikash Bhattacharya noted that central agencies have taken action against alleged corruption in various matters in West Bengal. “She cannot claim to be slighted for legal actions against corruption,” said Bhattacharya, who is a senior advocate representing petitioners in several cases of alleged irregularities.