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‘Efforts to topple my government will be fruitless’: Mamata Banerjee slams BJP amid face-off with Centre

The Bengal chief Minister also launched a campaign to take on corruption in the state in what is seen as a last-ditch effort check graft at the ground level.

india Updated: Jun 10, 2019 21:04 IST
Sumanta Ray Chaudhuri
Sumanta Ray Chaudhuri
Hindustan Times, Kolkata
West Bengal,Mamata banerjee,TMC
West Bengal Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee speaks during a press conference after the state-level administrative review meeting, at State Secretariat on Monday. (PTI)

Bengal chief minister Mamata Banerjee on Monday insisted that efforts to topple her government will not bear fruit and the state will go for Assembly polls in 2021 as scheduled although the Bharatiya Janata Party has said it has no such plans.

“There are attempts to topple our government. But I want to tell everyone that the Lok Sabha elections are Assembly elections are different ballgames altogether,” Banerjee, who also heads the Trinamool Congress, said without naming the BJP at the state secretariat where she also launched a campaign to take on corruption in the state.

The BJP’s performance in the 2019 general elections where it won 18 seats of Bengal’s 42 Lok Sabha seats in a nine-fold jump from its tally of two in 2014, triggered speculations that the state’s Assembly elections may be held before schedule. The TMC’s tally dipped from 34 in 2014 to 22 Lok Sabha seats in 2019.

The BJP has ruled out toppling the TMC government.

“The BJP has no intention to topple any elected government. The BJP does not have any record of dislodging any government. We do not wish to make Mamata Banerjee martyr. But what will BJP do if her own elected lawmakers go against her?” BJP national executive member Mukul Roy said at a press conference.

Three TMC MLAs and about 60 councillors have already joined the BJP after the Lok Sabha election results were announced on May 23.

Also read: MHA advisory ‘deep-rooted conspiracy’ by BJP to ‘grab’ power in opposition-ruled states: TMC

On Monday, the chief minister launched a toll-free phone number for the people to complain about extortion/corruption, handing over benefits to the people and delay in implementation of projects.

The step to arrest corruption is being seen as Banerjee’s last-ditch effort to check corruption at the ground level. She also announced the formation of a ‘monitoring of programme implementation and public grievances cell’ in the chief minister’s office.

“I urge the people to inform us of delay in projects, poor implementation, or if anybody seeks money to give people their entitled benefits. There is a toll free number (18003458244) where you can call, a number (9073300524) were you can sent text messages and an email id (wbcmro@gmail.com) where you can send mails. People in the cell will try to address the issues and if they fail the issued will come to us,” Banerjee said.

In the run-up to the Lok Sabha elections, both Prime Minister Narendra Modi and BJP president Amit Shah alleged that ruling TMC leaders indulged in extortion with impunity and described it as Trinamool Tolabazi Tax.

During the electoral campaign, Modi and Shah had repeatedly accused TMC of rampant corruption. Almost all senior BJP leaders who campaigned in Bengal alleged that TMC leaders have suffocated the lives of the people by seeking money for letting people avail every benefit they are entitled to, especially in dealings of land and construction materials.

A senior bureaucrat, who did not wished to be named, said, “The intention of the toll-free number is to check corruption and keep local TMC leaders under pressure.”

A TMC state committee member said that the TMC’s internal analysis of the electoral debacle pointed fingers at public grievances against corruption of local TMC leaders.

Commenting on the frequent post-poll violence in the state, Banerjee conceded that in certain areas, some junior police officers were not performing their duties properly. “I have full information about these officers and proper administrative action will be taken against them in right time. We have also decided to strengthen the economic offense wing of the state,” Banerjee said.

Also read: ‘A few stray post-poll clashes’: West Bengal govt in reply to Centre’s advisory over violence

Mukul Roy hit back at Banerjee saying, “In that case, the chief minister, who is also the home minister, should resign forthwith.”

Political analyst Biswanath Chakraborty said Mamata Banerjee was trying for an image makeover of her party but her initiative may not be effective.

“She is trying to change public perception about TMC. However, her attempt to portray herself as a crusader against corruption will be questioned, since there is no precedence of her acting against party leaders facing corruption charges. The Lokayukta bill that she passed was made into a toothless one and the rules are not yet framed. She has turned Lokayukta into a useless post,” said Chakraborty, a professor of political science at Rabindra Bharati University.

First Published: Jun 10, 2019 20:25 IST