KOLKATA: West Bengal Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee on Monday questioned the timing of the Pulwama terror attack, asking whether the government wanted to go to war when Lok Sabha elections were round the corner.
She also accused the BJP and RSS of fomenting communal tension in the wake of the terror assault that claimed the lives of 40 CRPF troopers.
"When elections are knocking on the door you are trying to stage a shadow war. Amit Shah and Narendra Modi are delivering political speeches. Even after such a big mishap you do not resign taking responsibility and are instead delivering political speeches," she told a press conference.
The Trinamool Congress supremo also wanted to know why a large convoy of CRPF personnel was allowed to move on the highway despite the government having intelligence inputs about a possible terror strike.
"The government knew of the matter. Intelligence inputs were there. Then why so many people had to die? Why no action was taken?" she asked. Banerjee said she desisted from speaking against the Modi government after the incident but was compelled to talk about it now as "some people are trying to teach us what patriotism is".
She said the government was trying to "create a war-like hysteria" ahead of the elections. "I have a doubt. How did they (Pakistan) get this encouragement when elections are round the corner? Why have not we taken any action against Pakistan in the last five years?" she asked.
She accused the RSS-VHP-BJP combine of vitiating the atmosphere in the country "by spreading the message of hatred".
"They are trying to trigger communal riots by taking out late night processions with national flags. They are trying to exploit the tragedy for political dividends. "It is a planted game of the RSS, VHP and the BJP. We will resist attempts to take political advantage of the situation," she said.
State BJP president Dilip Ghosh hit back at Banerjee for her comments, saying while the entire country is demanding that Pakistan be taught a befitting lesson, the TMC is opposing tough action against the neighbour.
Referring to Banerjee's accusation against the RSS and other saffron outfits, Ghosh wondered whether waving the national flag on the streets is a crime in West Bengal.
He alleged that West Bengal has become a hub of anti-national activities and the TMC government has not been able to stop them.
Ghosh wanted to know what stopped the TMC government from announcing an ex-gratia for the two slain CRPF troopers from the state.
"When people die from consuming spurious liquor, they have immediately given Rs 2 lakh as compensation. But when jawans are killed, the state doesn't bother to announce any compensation, while other states do," he said.
Banerjee sought a high-level inquiry into the Pulwama killings and punishment to those behind the attack. "When so many people died, there must be an investigation to prove who is responsible for it," she said.
The West Bengal chief minister said though she had suggestions on what action should be taken in the wake of the terror strike, she would speak about it publicly when the entire opposition was together. "If there is a united platform, I can speak my mind," she said.
She also asked people not to fall prey to "provocation by communal forces" and directed the police to remain alert.