West Bengal Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee on Sunday expressed her gratitude towards four chief ministers and Dravida Munnetra Kazhagam President MK Stalin for backing her position against the Centre’s “brazen interference” in her government’s functioning by seeking the transfer of three Indian Police Service officers.
The Centre and the West Bengal government are caught in an escalating row over the attack on Bharatiya Janata Party President JP Nadda’s convoy.
Amarinder Singh, Arvind Kejriwal, Bhupesh Baghel and Ashok Gehlot – chief ministers of Punjab, Delhi, Chhattisgarh and Rajasthan, respectively – alleged that the Centre’s order was an impingement on the powers of West Bengal’s administration, reported PTI. Punjab, Chhattisgarh and Rajasthan are governed by the Congress, while Delhi is ruled by the Aam Aadmi Party.
“The Centre is brazenly interfering with state government functioning by transferring police officers,” Banerjee wrote in a tweet. “My gratitude to Bhupesh Baghel, Arvind Kejriwal, Amarinder Singh, Ashok Gehlot and MK Stalin for showing solidarity to people of Bengal and reaffirming their commitment to federalism. Thank you.”
Unidentified officials told The Indian Express that Banerjee was also trying to mobilise the Opposition and hold a joint rally against the Bharatiya Janata Party in Kolkata in January, similar to the public meetings held in the run-up to the 2019 General Election. The chief minister may try to get Kejriwal, Stalin and other regional leaders on board.
In a statement released by the Trinamool Congress, Banerjee on Sunday also called Nationalist Congress Party chief Sharad Pawar, who showed his solidarity with her. Pawar reportedly accepted Banerjee’s invitation to share the stage with her, the statement said, according to the newspaper.
The BJP chief’s convoy, which also included the cars of other saffron party leaders, was on its way to Diamond Harbour in South 24 Parganas district to participate in a workers’ rally on December 10, when miscreants attacked it with stones and sticks. Nadda was on a two-day visit to West Bengal, campaigning for next year’s Assembly elections, when the incident took place.
The Bharatiya Janata Party blamed the Trinamool Congress for the attack, a charge Banerjee has repeatedly denied.
On December 17, the Centre asked the West Bengal government to immediately relieve three Indian Police Service officers for joining a central deputation. These officers were reportedly in charge of security details when the BJP president’s convoy was targeted. Banerjee has repeatedly criticised this move, calling it a “blatant misuse of power”.
At a political rally on Sunday, Union Home Minister Amit Shah claimed that the central government had the right to summon West Bengal police officers responsible for providing security to Nadda. “It is according to the federal structure [of the country],” he added. “They [Trinamool Congress government] should first go through the rules and then talk to the Centre and the public.”
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