West Bengal Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee on Sunday claimed the central government led by the Bharatiya Janata Party was trying to foil her party’s Martyr’s Day rally, PTI reported.
“I have heard that the Railways will not operate the usual number of trains tomorrow [Sunday] at the behest of the BJP,” she said. “I have information that they will run only 30% of the trains usually run on Sundays. This is not right.”
Banerjee said every party had the right to host rallies and programmes. She made the comment while visiting the venue of the rally in Kolkata to review preparations. “This year the Martyr’s Day has fallen on a Sunday,” she said. “Many people (office goers from outside city) participate in the rally as most of the time it has fallen on working days. This time they are unable to do it [as it’s a Sunday].”
The Trinamool Congress observes Martyr’s Day every year on July 21 to commemorate the killing of 13 people in police firing in 1993. “The main demand of the protest on 21st July 1993 was ‘No ID Card, No Vote’,” Banerjee had tweeted earlier in the day. “This year, we have given a call for ‘Restore Democracy. No Machines, Bring Ballots Back’. Let us pledge to fight for the restoration of democracy in our great nation.”
Banerjee, while addressing the rally, claimed the BJP won seats in West Bengal during the Lok Sabha elections by cheating and by using electronic voting machines, the Central Reserve Police Force, the central police and the Election Commission, ANI reported. “They just got 18 seats, by getting few seats they are trying to capture our party offices and beating our people,” she said.
The BJP won 18 seats, four fewer than Trinamool Congress, in the state in the General Elections.
The chief minister said she would request the Election Commission to conduct panchayat and municipal elections using ballot paper, according to ANI.
Trinamool Congress leader and minister Chandrima Bhattacharya also filed a first information report against BJP state president Dilip Ghosh for allegedly threatening to drag Trinamool Congress leaders out of buses on their way to the rally, if they failed to return the “cut money” they had collected from people.
“We will not allow any of the TMC leaders to leave for the rally if they do not return the cut money they had taken from people,” Ghosh said on Saturday, according to NDTV. “We will drag them out of the buses.”
Around 5,000 policemen have been deployed in Kolkata to maintain security at the rally. “All precautionary measures have been taken to ensure an incident-free rally,” Joint Commissioner of Police Jawed Shamim said. “All deputy commissioners have been directed to be on the street. Our arrangements are absolutely foolproof.”