KOLKATA: West Bengal Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee is to leave for Delhi on Wednesday and meet Prime Minister Narendra Modi the next day. This will be her first meeting with Modi since he became PM the second time. Mamata had earlier skipped Modi’s swearing-in ceremony and a meeting he had with chief ministers.
According to sources, the Prime Minister’s Office has said that Modi will meet Mamata around 4.30 pm on Wednesday. Mamata’s decision to visit Delhi came just 24 hours after she called on people to “protect rights and freedoms” guaranteed by the constitution as she warned of a “super emergency” under the Modi regime.
Mamata’s unscheduled visit to Delhi and planned meeting with the prime minister has raised questions in the wake of the CBI’s activities in Kolkata in the past 48 hours after the Kolkata High Court vacated its interim order granting former city police commissioner Rajeev Kumar protection from arrest in connection with the Rs 2,500-crore Saradha chit fund scam case.
“I have no idea what will be discussed between them,” said senior BJP leader Mukul Roy, who was once a trusted aide of Didi.
Officials in the state secretariat said the chief minister would raise issues related to financial assistance from the Centre for the state’s development. But sources in Trinamool Congress, the ruling party in the state, said that she might raise the issue of Rajeev Kumar as CBI sleuths had visited the state secretariat twice and served letters to top bureaucrats seeking information about the former top cop’s whereabouts.
Sujan Chakraborty, a CPM central committee member, said, “It is like a rotten apple spoiling the whole basket. Kumar is facing the consequences of work that he carried out under Mamata Banerjee’s instructions. She is now going to Delhi and will meet Modi to save herself and her nephew Abhishek Banerjee.”
The BJP, which is sparing no effort to score over TMC before the crucial 2021 Assembly elections, found fresh opportunity to attack Banerjee saying that the CMO's request to Modi's office was in reality Banerjee's "desperate attempt" to save herself from the clutches of the CBI.
BJP national secretary Rahul Sinha said, "We all know the kind of language she (Banerjee) had used against Prime Minister Narendra Modi during elections and even after that. She never had any regard for the federal structure and had even said she does not feel the need to respect Modiji as the country's prime minister. Now all of a sudden why she is going to Delhi is an open secret. Everybody knows why and for what she is going. This also brings out her nature as an opportunistic politician, who can go to any extent to get her purpose served and forget it once the work is over".
According to an another senior BJP leader who did not wish to be named, Banerjee has sought the meeting with Modi to save herself and her TMC leaders from the clutches of the CBI which is probing the multi-crore chit fund scam in the state.
"It is quite obvious that she is going to Delhi to make an unofficial appeal to ensure she and her party leaders are not touched by CBI. But it will not work, our party leaders will ever compromise on the issue of fighting corruption. All those who have looted public money will have to go behind the bars," he said.
The saffron party which won 18 out of a total of 42 Lok Sabha seats in Bengal, only four less than Trinamool’s’ tally of 22, is eyeing to deseat Banerjee’s party in the 2021 West Bengal Assembly elections.
(With PTI inputs)