West Bengal Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee on Sunday lashed out at the BJP-led Centre, questioning the reason behind the CBI arrest of TMC leader Anubrata Mondal, who is known to enjoy her trust.
Banerjee contended that the BJP was trying to break non-NDA governments in states.
"Without evidence, how can you accuse a person," she said, speaking at a public function in Behala on the eve of the 75th Independence Day.
Claiming that an agenda has been made to "destroy her image", The TMC supremo said she was being targeted as the BJP was afraid of her.
Asserting that law would take its own course if there was any illegal activity, Banerjee asked, "Why was Keshto (Anubrata Mondal) arrested? What did he do?"
Mondal was held by the CBI for allegedly not cooperating with its probe into a cattle smuggling case.
Maintaining that Mondal had denied every offer to become an MLA or an MP, Banerjee said, "I had even asked him to go to Rajya Sabha, but he politely turned down the proposal.”
She alleged that agencies are being used to malign “just about anyone”.
"This is being done as (they know) Narendra Modi will not win in 2024," she said.
Banerjee alleged that the BJP was trying to weaken the TMC in Bengal.
"Have you seen Royal Bengal Tiger? Come and see," the TMC supremo thundered, asking her party workers not to be afraid.
"They want to gag us the way they have done that to some other parties to ensure that no opposing force stands up in the country," Banerjee said.
She stated that not just political persons but officers are also being intimidated through summonses.
"Eight officers have been called to Delhi," she said, adding that her government would stand by them.
"I have come to say on the eve of the Independence Day that I will die but will not be afraid... we will continue to fight," she affirmed.
The chief minister said that attempts to buy out MLAs in Jharkhand were foiled by the police in West Bengal.
"We caught them red-handed; Rs 10 crore were being given to buy MLAs," she said.
Three Jharkhand Congress MLAs were recently arrested with nearly Rs 49 lakh cash in their vehicle.
Insisting that the Maharashtra government was brought down “unethically”, Banerjee claimed that the federal structure of the country has been destroyed by the BJP.
"Where are you getting so much money from, BJP? Why are the CBI and the ED not (probing) against you?" she asked, adding, "you are a saint and I am a thief?”
Alleging that some corruption cases being tagged to her government or party leaders are of the Left Front era, the chief minister said that she had not acted against the former ruling coalition members as she had “called for change and not revenge”.
She stated that the Saradha chit fund scam had started during the Left Front era.
Both the CPI(M) and the Congress have criticized Banerjee and the TMC over the recent arrests of Partha Chatterjee in a school recruitment scam, and Mondal in connection with the cattle smuggling case.
Claiming that she was aware of plans being made against her party, Banerjee said, "who do you want arrest - Bobby (Firhad Hakim), Arup Biswas ... Abhishek? And in which jails will you keep them?"
She threatened to start a "jail bharo agitation" with her colleagues.
"Some are saying that I went to Delhi for an understanding; it was to claim our money," she said, rebuffing opposition allegations that Banerjee met Prime Minister Narendra Modi after finding her party in a sticky pitch.
She said that workers are not getting wages under the NREGA scheme for the last seven months.
"I will go a thousand times if required for the interest of the state and to seek our dues," she underlined.
Lashing out at CPI(M) and Congress, she said that when Sitaram Yechury or Congress chief ministers attend programs of the Centre, there is no talk of any "setting", but when she goes for a government meeting, such allegations are made.
Banerjee vowed that “with August 16 being ‘Khela Hobe’ divas, as declared in 2021, the game will restart again from that day with agitations, meetings and rallies”.
‘KHela hobe’ (the game will be played) was TMC’s slogan for the 2021 assembly polls
"If one Kesto is arrested, lakhs of Kesto will spring up on the streets," she gave assurance.
Banerjee stated that she was planning to give the program a miss owing to bad weather but decided otherwise as detractors would have said she skipped it “out of fear”.
"Till the time someone is held guilty or otherwise, I will not comment on the matter," she said, without taking the names of Chatterjee or Mondal.
Holding that people would hit the streets if central agencies visit her residence, she urged the public to do the same if unfair treatment was meted out to her colleagues
She said that there should be freedom of politics, property, and speech.
"This country does not run on whims of some persons," she said.
Without taking Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s name or his ‘Har Ghar Tiranga’ initiative, the TMC boss said people need no prodding to hoist the flag, they can do that on their own.
Maintaining that she has to her credit 120 books, Banerjee said that many of these are bestsellers.
"I get a royalty from these and have paid Rs 5 lakh income tax owing to these apart from Rs 3 lakh as TDS," the CM added.
(Inputs from PTI)