The chief minister also accused the media of "insulting" the state by disseminating wrong information at the behest of the saffron party, while ruling out advancing the state elections, due in 2021, as being speculated by some.
Asserting that the Trinamool Congress “will not let West Bengal turn into another Gujarat”, Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee Monday said two persons were killed during Saturday’s clashes and not five as claimed by the BJP, which, she alleged, was trying to incite violence and topple her government by spreading “fake news”. She saw the MHA advisory to West Bengal as part of “games played from behind the scenes” and said the state chief secretary has already replied to it.
“They (BJP) are spending crores of rupees to spread fake news through social media. The central government and (BJP) party cadre are trying to incite violence in the state… we will not let Bengal turn into another Gujarat,” a combative Banerjee, who had a war of words with Prime Minister Narendra Modi during the general elections, told reporters at the state secretariat.
The chief minister also accused the media of “insulting” the state by disseminating wrong information at the behest of the saffron party, while ruling out advancing the state elections, due in 2021, as being speculated by some. She further alleged that after winning the Lok Sabha elections, the BJP, with encouragement from some of its Central leaders, was trying to incite violence in Darjeeling and Jangalmahal region of West Bengal as a part of a conspiracy and advised the saffron party “not to play with fire.”
“This is a planted game. Their game plan is to throttle my voice, because they know that Mamata Banerjee is the only person in the country to raise voice against them. This conspiracy to bring down our government will not succeed,” the feisty TMC supremo claimed. “We will not bow down to their conspiracy and will ask people to remain calm and quiet,” she said.
Post-poll clashes between the ruling TMC and workers of a resurgent BJP has turned out to be another flash point between the two parties which traded barbs during the fiercely fought general election. After the clashes in North 24 Parganas district’s Sandeshkhali on Saturday night, bodies of three persons were brought to Basirhat Hospital. BJP leaders had claimed that two of them were supporters of their party while the TMC said the third one was its active worker. Both the warring parties claimed that several of their supporters have gone missing following the violence.
The police and North 24 Parganas district authorities have remained tight-lipped about the clashes since Saturday and have not made any statement on the number of deaths. Banerjee, however, argued that the number of deaths was two, without giving details and accused the BJP of “inciting violence” in the state.
“There are two deaths, but they (the BJP) are claiming that five have been killed. They are lying. I have seen a BJP leader saying in a news channel that three people are missing. If that is so, why don’t you give their names and address,” she said.
Banerjee also ruled out early assembly elections, as speculated in the media following the impressive performance of the BJP in the Lok Sabha polls and in view of the increasing number of TMC leaders joining the saffron party.
The BJP bagged 18 of the 42 Lok Sabha seats in West Bengal, just four less than that of the TMC. The Congress managed to win in two constituencies while the CPI(M)-led Left Front, which ruled the state for 34 years, drew a blank. “Elections will be held after two years. There is no relation between the Lok Sabha and assembly elections. You are running wrong news,” Banerjee told reporters.
“You are writing whatever the BJP leaders are telling you. Why have you written that four or five have been killed? You are not doing any cross-check on the claims of the BJP leaders. I know that the BJP gives you advertisement… I know everything,” she said.
Alleging that there were “infiltrations” during the recently concluded Lok Sabha elections, the chief minister said, “If there is any riot or violence in any state, then the central government cannot shrug off its responsibility.” “During the elections there were infiltrators who came to campaign for the BJP. But when someone from Bangladesh stood by the street to see a TMC rally, his visa was cancelled,” she said.
During the Lok Sabha polls, well-known Bangladeshi actor Ferdous Ahmed’s business visa was cancelled by the MHA after he was found participating in a campaign rally of the TMC. Another Bangladeshi television actor Gazi Abdun Noor also met the same fate for allegedly campaigning for the TMC.
The Centre Sunday expressed “deep concern” over the continuing violence in West Bengal, saying the “unabated violence” even after the Lok Sabha polls appears to be a failure on part of the state government. In the advisory, the Home Ministry asked the state government to maintain law and order, peace and public tranquillity.
In a letter to the Centre, the West Bengal government replied that there were a few “stray post-poll clashes” in the state and claimed the situation was “under control”. The chief minister Monday said there were a few police officers in some areas in the state who were not taking proper action against people resorting to hooliganism in West Bengal.
“We have directed officers not to allow hooliganism. We have information that a few officers-in-charge and sub-inspectors in some areas are not taking proper action against hooligans. We are taking stringent action against them and find out that what game is being played behind this,” she said.