Oust BJP, Mamata Banerjee tells regional parties on TMC’s martyr’s day
Trinamool Congress (TMC) chief Mamata Banerjee on Wednesday attacked the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) over the alleged use of the Israeli software Pegasus for snooping on politicians, activists and journalists and made on open appeal to Nationalist Congress Party chief Sharad Pawar to put together an opposition front to defeat the BJP in 2024 national elections.
She also urged the Supreme Court to take suo motu cognisance into the allegations that the Central government could have used the Pegasus software to hack phones of prominent political opponents and critics. She suggested that the apex court should form a special investigation team in the matter.
“I definitely know that my phone was tapped…Only judiciary can save democracy. Oust spying and save the nation,” Banerjee said during an hour-long virtual address on the TMC’s martyrs’ day, the big annual event held in the memory of 13 youth Congress workers killed in police firing in Kolkata on July 21, 1993.
Prime Minister Narendra Modi and Union home minister Amit Shah became the prime targets in her speech.
“Pegasus is bigger than Watergate,” said the Bengal chief minister, referring to the Watergate scandal that rocked the US government and led to President Richard Nixon’s resignation in 1974.
Like last year, Banerjee addressed people virtually due to the Covid pandemic but for the first time, giant screens were installed in public places and TMC offices not only in Bengal but also in states such as Delhi, Uttar Pradesh, Tamil Nadu and Tripura. Banerjee spoke in Bengali, English and Hindi to reach out to her audience.
In Delhi, leaders of regional parties assembled at the Constitution Club of India to listen to the speech.
“I will be in Delhi from July 27 to 29. I urge Sharad Pawar Ji (the Nationalist Congress Party chief) to hold a meeting. Mr Prime Minister please don’t disturb us,” said Banerjee.
“I don’t know what will happen in 2024 but we have to start our planning now… We will not be defeated. I am confident we will win,” she said, indicating that the TMC is keen to form an alliance against the BJP in the next Lok Sabha polls. After her party’s thumping victory against the BJP in the Bengal assembly elections, Mamata Banerjee’s party is looking to expand its base and forge an opposition alliance to challenge the saffron party nationally.
“Only two and a half years are left until the elections. Let us form an alliance and show the path to the nation. I am a worker. I will follow you and your instructions. Chairs do not last forever but love of the people lives on,” said Banerjee.
“If our front comes to power we will give free ration to the entire country,” said Banerjee referring in great detail to the rationing system and other welfare schemes implemented by her in Bengal.
“I cannot call up Sharad Pawar Ji, P Chidambaram, the Delhi chief minister or the Odisha chief minister because my phone is tapped. See I have put a plaster on the camera of my phone. Instead of a democratic state you (BJP) want to have a surveillance state,” said Banerjee. She held up her mobile phone which had a brown tape pasted on the backside.
“Before the assembly polls, I was in a meeting with our party leaders. My phone was there. They recorded everything,” she said.
“Modi Ji I am not criticising you as a person but you and Amit Shah Ji have only come up with dark laws. You only want violence and disturbance. India is the land of Swami Vivekananda, Nehru, A P J Abdul Kalam and Bhagat Singh. India needs development and integrity. But all we can see is despair and instability,” said Banerjee.
“Mohabbat kaam se hota hai, maan ki baat bolne se nahi (you can spread love through your work, not by speaking your mind),” said Banerjee, referring to the Prime Minister’s monthly radio show ‘Maan Ki Baat’ through which he addresses the nation.
“We have to build up agitation across the nation against rising prices of diesel, petrol and LPG,” said the Bengal chief minister.
The BJP Bengal unit countered Banerjee by paying homage to its workers killed in political violence.
Claiming that 124 BJP workers have been killed since the 2008 panchayat polls, Bengal BJP president Dilip Ghosh held a peaceful agitation at Rajghat in New Delhi while party workers held programmes in Bengal’s districts and Kolkata.
“Mamata Banerjee’s government uses Pegasus to snoop on people and opposition leaders. She has a better idea about the technology,” Ghosh said in Delhi.
Mamata Banerjee was a Youth Congress leader in 1993 and led an agitation on July 21 against the then Left Front government in the state. Over the years, the martyr’s day rally has emerged as a symbol of the TMC’s struggle since its birth in 1998 and serves as a platform from which Banerjee sends out messages and declares future plans.