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Mamata Banerjee ends 3-day dharna, says it’s a victory for democracy

The 64-year-old Trinamool Congress leader has been holding a protest at Esplanade in Kolkata against the CBI for the last three days.

india Updated: Feb 05, 2019 19:46 IST
HT Correspondent
HT Correspondent
Hindustan Times, Kolkata
Mamata Banerjee,Mamata Banerjee dharna,Mamata Vs centre
West Bengal chief minister Mamata Banerjee shouts slogan after announcing the end of dharna and Andhra Pradesh chief minister Chandrababu Naidu looks on at Esplanade in Kolkata on February 5.(HT Photo/Arijit Sen)

Bengal Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee, who reached Kolkata’s Esplanade on Sunday evening to start a rare street protest against the CBI attempt to question the city’s top cop, called off the dharna 45 hours later.

“This dharna is victory for the Constitution and democracy, so, let us end it today,” she told her supporters at the protest site in the heart of the Bengal capital. Andhra chief minister Chandrababu Naidu stood next to her, Tejashwi Yadav of Bihar’s Rashtriya Janata Dal had also joined her on stage.

Both had flown to Kolkata to extend their support; other opposition leaders had phoned in their support. To the hundreds of Trinamool Congress supporters who gathered at the protest site, Mamata would often let them know about the phone calls.

Mamata Banerjee alleged that the central government was trying to control all agencies. “They (Centre) want to control state agencies also. PM (Narendra Modi) should resign from Delhi and go back to Gujarat. One man government and one party government is there,” she said.

Follow live updates here: NDA will have to think twice from now, says Chandrababu Naidu

For the 45 hours that she had been at Esplanade, the stand-off that had started between the Kolkata Police and the Central Bureau of Investigation (CBI) had exploded into a huge controversy that reached Parliament and the Supreme Court.

In Parliament, home minister Rajnath Singh said the situation is a threat to the federal structure of the country and warned that there may be a constitutional breakdown in West Bengal.

On Tuesday, the Supreme Court ordered Kolkata police commissioner Rajeev Kumar to cooperate with the CBI in the Saradha chit fund case but said that Kumar can’t be arrested. Both Mamata Banerjee and the BJP claimed “moral victory” after the court ruling.

Read more| ‘Country not run by guns and gaurakshaks’: Mamata on Supreme Court order

The Union home minister has written a letter to the Bengal government asking it to take disciplinary action against Rajeev Kumar. The home ministry said Rajeev Kumar and some other police officers sat on a dharna with West Bengal Mamata Banerjee.

The standoff between the Centre and the Bengal government began on Sunday evening when a CBI team reached the Kolkata police chief residence to question him over the Saradha chit fund case.

The situation escalated as the Kolkata police detained the CBI officials and the Central Reserve Police Force (CRPF) was told to secure the CBI’s headquarters in the city. Mamata accused Prime Minister Narendra Modi and BJP President Amit Shah of plotting a ‘coup’ and sat on a protest.

Rajeev Kumar led the special investigation team (SIT) that was probing the case before CBI took over. The central probe agency had raised suspicions that the Kolkata top cop was destroying evidence in the case.

First Published: Feb 05, 2019 19:07 IST