Defence Minister Nirmala Sitharaman on Sunday criticised West Bengal chief minister and Trinamool Congress chief Mamata Banerjee for questioning Indian air strikes in Balakot in Pakistan, asking whether Trinamool stood with India or “were helping our enemies”, IANS reported. Sitharaman made the comment during a panel discussion in Kolkata.
Referring to the attack on Central Reserve Police Force personnel in Jammu and Kashmir’s Pulwama last month, in which 40 troopers were killed, Sitharaman said: “After that, when we struck Balakot, it was our fight against terrorism, but they are asking for proof?” She pointed out that the entire nationalism movement against the British started in the country from West Bengal.
“This Bengal today speaks in favour of Pakistan! Unbelievable,” she said, accusing the Trinamool Congress of “helping that Pakistan, which suppressed Bengali-speaking people in then East Pakistan [now Bangladesh]”.
Taking a dig at Mamata Banerjee, Sitharaman said ‘Didi’ – or elder sister, as Banerjee is popularly called – was “doing non-cooperation against the government of India” just like Mahatma Gandhi’s non-cooperation movement against the British.
Criticising the Congress, the minister said Prime Minister Narendra Modi had acted against terrorists based in Pakistan unlike his predecessor Manmohan Singh, who did not do anything after the 26/11 attacks, The Indian Express reported. “After the 26/11 attack, we gave evidence to Pakistan but they did nothing,” Sitharaman said. “After the Pulwama attack, Jaish-e-Mohammad claimed responsibility. We did what Pakistan should have done.”
The defence minister accused the Trinamool Congress of creating an environment of fear and violence in the state and driving away investment from the state, reported The Times of India. Referring to the Left Front, which Mamata removed from power in 2012, Sitharaman said she was “following the same way to shun others”.
“None of the industrialists is ready to invest in Bengal now, she claimed. “If voted to power, we will bring change to Bengal.”
Sitharaman, who accused the state government of not even allowing democratic rallies by the Opposition, said the Trinamool Congress was scared. “But I cannot understand the reason for that.”