West Bengal Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee on Tuesday said her meeting with Prime Minister Narendra Modi would be a courtesy visit to highlight some concerns about the state, PTI reported. Banerjee has sought a meeting with Modi in New Delhi, and is likely to meet him on Wednesday.
Before leaving Kolkata, Banerjee told reporters she would raise concerns such as the change in the name of her state, and the merger of public sector banks.
“I go to New Delhi very rarely,” she said. “This is a routine work. This time I am going to talk about funds that are due to West Bengal. I will also highlight issues like change of West Bengal’s name. Will also talk about matters like merger of public sector banks, issues with Air India, BSNL, Railways where there are several problems. They [employees of these organisations] cannot go anywhere and come to us.”
On Monday, the Bharatiya Janata Party had mocked Banerjee for seeking the appointment. The party had alleged that Banerjee was trying to save herself from being investigated for corruption.
“We all know the kind of language she [Banerjee] had used against Prime Minister Narendra Modi during Lok Sabha elections and afterwards,” BJP National Secretary Rahul Sinha said. “She never had any regard for the federal structure and had even said she does not feel the need to respect Modi as prime minister.”
Sinha alleged that the reason for her sudden trip to Delhi was an open secret. “It also brings out her nature of an opportunistic politician, who can go to any extent to get her purpose served and forget it once the job is done,” he added.
The request for a meeting came while the Central Bureau of Investigation is looking into former Kolkata Police Commissioner Rajeev Kumar’s involvement in the Saradha scam. Kumar is accused of tampering with crucial evidence in the case. He had headed the Special Investigation Team set up by West Bengal Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee to investigate the scam before the Supreme Court handed over the case to the Central Bureau of Investigation in 2014. The Saradha company ran several ponzi schemes in West Bengal, allegedly defrauding lakhs of people. Thousands of crores of rupees were lost after the scheme collapsed in 2013. Its promoter Sudipta Sen was arrested the same year.
A senior BJP leader told PTI that Banerjee was going to Delhi to ensure that she is not pulled into the investigation. “It is quite obvious that she is going to Delhi to make an unofficial appeal to ensure that she and her TMC party leaders are not touched by CBI,” the leader, who wished to remain anonymous, told PTI. “But it will not work. Our party high command will never compromise on the issue of fighting corruption. All those who have looted public money, will have to go behind bars.”
A Trinamool Congress leader claimed that the Bengal BJP was making baseless claims. “In a federal structure a chief minister of a state has every right to meet the prime minister,” the TMC leader told PTI. “The proposed meeting is related to developmental issues of the state.”
Political match fixing, alleges Opposition
The Communist Party of India (Marxist) and the Congress also criticised Banerjee’s planned meeting.
“Rajeev Kumar has nearly ruined his career by trying to suppress misdeeds of Bengal’s ruling party leaders,” CPI(M) leader Sujan Chakraborty said, according to the Hindustan Times. “Now that the noose around him has tightened and other officers in Mamata Banerjee’ government have started to panic, she is out to protect her nephew [Lok Sabha MP Abhishek Banerjee] and herself.”
Congress’ Somen Mitra claimed that the meeting was part of a “political match fixing” between the BJP and the TMC. “We have been saying for a long time that TMC and BJP are playing out a fixed match in Bengal,” Mitra said. “Banerjee is going to meet the prime minister to ensure that CBI goes slow in the chit fund scam investigation.”
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