Sounding the bugle for another ‘Khela Hobe’, West Bengal Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee urged all the Opposition parties to unite and form a front to fight the BJP and “save democracy” in India. Even as she launched a tirade against the BJP for turning India into a “surveillance state” instead of maintaining the nation as a democracy.
Addressing a virtual gathering to mark Martyrs’ Day on Wednesday (July 21), Banerjee urged the Opposition parties not to lose time, and to start planning from now on for the 2024 General Elections and put an end to the BJP juggernaut. Calling the Opposition to come together to form a united front, she added that she would work together with them.
Playing on her victory slogan ‘Khela Hobe’ that had become her clarion call in the recent state assembly elections, Banerjee said one game has happened in Bengal and “another game’s afoot”, said media reports.
Clearly throwing her hat into the ring, Banerjee further said that she will be in Delhi next week and she was keen to meet the Opposition leaders during the ongoing Parliament session. “I propose you call a meeting of Opposition leaders between 26-28 of this month, we are keen to attend,” she reiterated, said a News18 report.
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Banerjee also lambasted the Centre over the Pegasus snooping controversy claiming she was wary of talking to Opposition leaders because she knew her phone was being tapped.
According to an Indian Express report, Banerjee ranted against the Centre stating that Pegasus is “dangerous and ferocious”.
“I cannot talk to anyone,” she said, accusing the Centre of paying too much money for spying. She has plastered her phone and would like to “plaster the Centre”, otherwise, our country will get destroyed, said Banerjee, adding that the BJP has bulldozed the federal structure.
Senior TMC leader and Banerjee’s nephew, Abhishek Banerjee, figures in the database of possible targets chosen for surveillance. Banerjee went on to ask the Supreme Court to take suo motu cognisance of the alleged surveillance operation using the Pegasus spyware adding that the need of the hour was “to save this democracy”.
She held up her phone and said that she has put a tape on her phone camera now. But, according to Banerjee, they tap everything — video and audio. “Pegasus is dangerous. They are harassing people. Sometimes I cannot speak to anyone. I can’t even talk to the chief minister of Delhi or Odisha,” she said.
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Banerjee stepped up her attack against the Centre adding that “spygiri” is going on. Phones of ministers, judges are being tapped. The Centre has finished the democratic structure. “Pegasus captured the election process, the judiciary, ministers and media houses. Instead of a democratic state, they want to convert it into a surveillance state,” she reiterated.
She also thanked the people of Bengal for giving her an overwhelming mandate in the Assembly polls. Invoking Tagore, she said that they had fought against money, muscle, mafia power and all agencies and won despite all the odds because the people in Bengal had voted for them.
Martyrs’ Day, is a crucial date for the TMC since it was on this day in 1993 that 13 people were killed by the Bengal Police in Kolkata during a rally by West Bengal Youth Congress under Banerjee. They had demanded that voters’ ID card must be made the sole document for voting. The movement had helped establish a young Banerjee as a fiery, grassroots leader though she had no family links in politics.
In 1998, when Banerjee broke away from the Congress to form the TMC, she continued to mark July 21 every year.