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Mamata Banerjee, slipped, Fell, TMC Complaints to ECI against CBI Raids

Mamata Banerjee, slipped, Fell, TMC Complaints to ECI against CBI Raids

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Manas Dasgupta

NEW DELHI, Apr 27” The West Bengal Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee slipped and fell while taking her seat after boarding a helicopter in Durgapur on Saturday. The chief minister was helped by her security personnel and she continued with her onward travel to Asansol to address an election rally.

Visuals showed Mamata Banerjee trying to take a seat after boarding the helicopter but, in the process, losing her balance.  

“The CM fell inside the helicopter after losing her balance while she was trying to sit. She is fine,” a senior officer, who was accompanying Ms Banerjee, said.

On March 14, the 69-year-old Trinamool Congress supremo fell inside her Kalighat residence in Kolkata and had suffered grievous injuries on her forehead and nose. She had to be admitted to hospital for a few hours.

Banerjee’s brother, Kartik Banerjee, had said she had a cerebral concussion and had a sharp cut on her forehead and nose which was bleeding profusely. The state-run hospital director Manimoy Bandyopadhyay’s initial statement that she fell “within the vicinity of her home due to some push from behind” had sparked large-scale confusion and speculations over the cause of her fall. Bandyopadhyay later clarified that all he meant was that the chief minister may have felt “a sensation of push.”

At that time, senior BJP leader Suvendu Adhikari triggered a controversy after he apparently made a mockery of Banerjee’s injury and other BJP leaders commented that the TMC leader was “habitual in getting injuries” during every election to gain some “sympathy” from voters. During the 2021 state Assembly elections, Ms Banerjee had injured her legs.

Mr Adhikari’s remarks over her fall in her Kalighat home that “TMC’s pressure has gone down and it is falling. The fall of the TMC has just begun from the top, it will percolate to the grassroots levels” drew sharp condemnation from the ruling TMC, which said the remarks reflect the anti-women mindset of the BJP.

“Such remarks against the only woman chief minister of the country reflect the anti-women mindset of the BJP. We condemn such remarks and demand an apology,” West Bengal Women and Child Development Minister Shashi Panja said.

The TMC has now knocked on the doors of the Election Commissioner with an official complaint against the Central Bureau of Investigation (CBI) accusing it of “throttling” the Opposition’s, including its own, campaigns at a time when elections were on. The letter of complaint was sent on Friday evening soon after the CBI raids in Sandeshkhali.

This comes after the Bengal government moved the Supreme Court on Friday against a Calcutta High Court order directing a CBI probe into allegations of extortion, land grab, and sexual assault from Sandeshkhali against now-suspended Trinamool leader, Sheikh Shahjahan, and his aides. The Supreme Court move followed the CBI’s raids on hideouts linked to suspects in the case.

The federal agency claimed to have recovered foreign-made weapons and ammunition, following which teams of the elite National Security Guard (NSG) commandos were deployed to the spot. The party said there was “no way of knowing with certainty” if the weapons allegedly retrieved in the searches were “surreptitiously planted by the CBI/NSG.”

“Your office has turned a blind eye while Central probe agencies continue to wreak havoc across the nation, especially during the election period,” the party’s complaint to the poll body read. “Today, i.e. 26.04.2024, is the day earmarked as the polling day for Phase II of the ensuing Lok Sabha Elections, 2024. More specifically in West Bengal, the electorate was scheduled to vote in three Parliamentary Constituencies, which are, Darjeeling, Raiganj, and Balurghat. While elections were going on, the CBI deliberately carried out an unscrupulous raid at an empty location in Sandeshkhali. Media reports suggest that the CBI called in additional forces including the bomb squad of the National Security Guard (NSG). It has also been reported that arms and ammunition have been recovered from a house during such raid,” the letter said.

“… though ‘law and order’ is a domain falling completely within the ambit of the state government, the CBI did not issue an actionable notice to the state government and/or the police authorities before carrying out such a raid. Further, the state police has a fully functional bomb disposal squad which could have assisted the entire operation, if the CBI indeed felt that a bomb squad was required during such a raid. However, no such assistance was sought by the CBI.

“It is astonishing to notice that media personnel were already present during such the raid even before the state administration arrived at the spot. At such point in time, it was already nationwide news that weapons had been recovered during the raid. There is no way of knowing with certainty, as to whether these weapons were indeed recovered during the search and seizure procedure or whether they were surreptitiously planted by the CBI/NSG,” it alleged.

The TMC accused the CBI of “deliberately” informing the media “well in advance so that there is nationwide odium and contempt against the AITC and its candidates during the present election period.” “Media was fed with false information that the location belonged to an AITC supporter. Nothing has been proven in a court of law, however, the CBI has notoriously instrumentalised the media to spread this rumour. Hence ensuring, that a negative campaign is run against AITC not only during a polling day when the electors watch such news before casting their votes but also during the entire election period as a whole.”

“The BJP compromised the sanctity of the ensuing elections by spreading a sense of terror amongst the electorate, thereby attempting to gain an undue advantage…” it further said. The party has urged the poll commission to issue immediate guidelines whereby political parties and functionaries are not acted against by any central investigating agency, including the CBI, during the period of elections and issue immediate directions to the agencies and the media to remove all references to AITC in their reporting.

The party has also alleged that the central government in a bid to malign the TMC government rush CBI, NIA and NSG even if a “chocolate bomb” was burst by a child in any part of West Bengal.

The TMC also issued a “fact-check” after Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s high-octane election campaign in West Bengal levelling a series of accusations against the party government of “blocking” beneficiary schemes of the BJP government at the centre.

Tearing into the ruling Trinamool Congress and the erstwhile Left Front government in the state for putting brakes on development, PM Modi had said they wrecked the greatness, global image and the dignity of Bengal under their rule. He said Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee’s party was under the spotlight again over alleged irregularities in appointments for teaching posts after the Calcutta High Court recently cancelled over 25,000 recruitments in the state.

“There was a time when Bengal was the engine of the country’s development and progress. Be it social reforms, scientific advancements, as well as philosophical and spiritual thinking and awakening, Bengal led the way,” Mr Modi had said at a rally in Malda district, where the majority of voters are Muslims. “However, the Left Front and the present TMC regime robbed Bengal of its greatness on the global stage and lowered its dignity and prestige in the eyes of the world. Only scams worth thousands of crores are flourishing in Bengal under TMC rule,” Mr Modi had said.

In its Fact-check,” the TMC claimed that the BJP government has withheld funds worth ₹ 1.6 lakh crore under various heads for Bengal. This was in response to PM Modi’s comment that only the BJP was working for Bengal’s development.

On PM Modi’s comment that the Kaushal Vikas Yojana and the Start Up India programme have empowered the youth, the Trinamool claimed the placement rate for the Kaushal Vikas Yojana 2.0 stood at 23 per cent, while for the PMKVY 3.0, it was even lower at 8 per cent.

PM Modi had said in the rally that the Trinamool had not been allowing the Centre to start the Ayushman Bharat scheme in Bengal. The Trinamool, however, claimed 40 per cent funds under this scheme should come from the state.

“Bengal has a better health insurance scheme, Swasthya Sathi. ₹ 5 lakh cover, entire amount bourne by the state. Completely paperless, cashless, parents of both spouses covered and free treatment for all in government hospital,” the Trinamool said. On Modi’s slamming the Banerjee government over crime against women in Sandeshkhali, the TMC said the Bengal police arrested the Sandeshkhali accused in 72 hours. “BJP took no action against a BJP MP who sexually assaulted champion women wrestlers…”



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