KOLKATA: With all guns blazing against Yogi Adityanath government, TMC chief and West Bengal chief minister Mamata Banerjee marched on the Kolkata streets on Saturday as part of a protest programme against the alleged gangrape and murder of a Dalit woman in Hathras.
In order to woo the Dalit electorates in West Bengal, she announced that her party would continue protests against "BJP-sponsored" torture on the people of the backward class in the next seven days across the state.
"The BJP is torturing those who belong to Scheduled Caste (SC) community. We are always with the Dalits. Today, I am physically here, but my mind is in Hathras. The BJP-led government brutally set the rape and murder victim ablaze at night without informing the victim’s family. The BJP wants one nation, one leader, one political party. The country is witnessing super autocracy,' said Mamata.
Mamata’s march labelling BJP "anti-Dalit" is said to be the 2021 Assembly poll ploy as Dalit and tribal communities form 29% of Bengal’s total population and Dalits are the deciding factor in 84 out of 294 assembly seats.
In the 2019 Lok Sabha polls, BJP made deep inroads in Dalit dominated areas, which were TMC’s turf, and Mamata’s statement condemning the Hathras incident and her Saturday’s protest march is seen as an attempt to regain strength in its erstwhile citadel.
Referring to the BJP’s allegation that she was favouring minorities, the Bengal CM said, "How many people have been arrested in Delhi riot? If I raise this issue, the BJP labels me for favouring minorities. Minorities are in distress and I am with them. Today Dalits are suffering and I am with them. If tribals are in trouble tomorrow, I will be beside them. Like them, I do not divide people on the line of religion. Humanity is my only religion."
Mamata also said she had specific information that apart from the victim’s family, journalists were also being threatened not to highlight the issue.
"I called up someone and asked him to give the phone number of a family member of the victim. But I was shocked to know that the administration took away the cellphones of all the family members. They confined the family in their house for hours and waylaid journalists’ movement so that facts could be suppressed," she alleged.
The CM said her party is fighting against the Covid-19 pandemic and it is time to fight the pandemic of autocracy. She asked her party workers to meet Dalit families in Bengal and narrate them how the people of the backward classes are being tortured in BJP-ruled states. The party’s youth and students' wings have been asked to carry out week-long protest programmes following social distancing norms from Sunday in block-level across the state.