West Bengal Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee on Saturday (January 11) faced backlash from the Left-affiliated students for meeting Prime Minister Narendra Modi. They broke three barricades put up near the stage of TMCP’s sit-in at Rani Rashmoni Avenue, demanding an explanation from Banerjee regarding her visit to an event attended by Modi.
The Left students were protesting against her meeting Modi at the Raj Bhavan here and sharing the stage with the prime minister at a function later in the evening on the first day of his two-day visit to the state. They launched a dharna at the Dorina Crossing at Esplanade and said it would continue as long as the prime minister is in the state.
Members of SFI, AISA and IC of Presidency University students unions chanting ‘Azadi’ and ‘Shame Shame’ broke barricades and demanded to know why Banerjee met the prime minister, who, they said, is behind the implementation of the Citizenship (Amendment) Act and National Register of Citizens and “diluted the fight” against it.
“We were heading towards the Raj Bhavan. But we were prevented from doing so by the police near TMCP’s dharna site on nearby Rani Rashmoni Avenue. When the CM arrived, we demanded an explanation from her,” claimed Subho Biswas, a student of Presidency University. An SFI leader Tapas Das said the protests would go on as long as Modi was in the city on Sunday.
“We demanded an explanation from Mamata Banerjee about her meeting the prime minister at the Raj Bhavan and sharing the stage at an official programme… There is a secret understanding between Mamata Banerjee and Modi. She has been exposed. We will sit on dharna at the Esplanade crossing till the prime minister leaves the city tomorrow,” he said.
Banerjee, who was seen arguing with Left students, sought to clarify her stand and said it was her “constitutional obligation to meet the PM”.
“I am the only leader who met Narendra Modi and told him that the CAA, NRC and NPR cannot be implemented. We have been protesting from day one against CAA. The issue before both of us (TMCP and Left students’ unions) is the same, so please don’t deviate from it. I request you all to protest in a democratic way… We should fight the anti-CAA battle together. We are fighting on the same issue,” she told the Left students unions.
She also asked the TMCP students, who were separated by a barricade put up by police, to remain calm and not retaliate. Banerjee was seen sitting on the dais surrounded by security guards and TMCP students raised counter slogans chanting ‘Vande Mataram’ and ‘Down with BJP and its cohorts’.
A senior Kolkata Police Police officer said Banerjee is still present at the sit-in venue and officers and extra policemen are present there. “We are alert,” he added.
(With inputs from agencies)