Kolkata: Union Home Minister Amit Shah Sunday challenged the West Bengal government to prove his ministry’s order directing the central deputation of three IPS officers of the state cadre is not legal.
Addressing the media at Shantiniketan in Birbhum district months ahead of the West Bengal assembly elections, Shah said all letters written to the Mamata Banerjee government by the Ministry of Home Affairs (MHA) were well within the limits of the Constitution.
“The West Bengal government should quote the provisions of the federal structure and the Constitution to prove where the MHA orders have faltered,” he said.
The central government had ordered the transfer of the three IPS officers after an attack on the convoy of BJP president J.P. Nadda in Bengal earlier this month. They are senior officers who were responsible for Nadda’s security in Diamond Harbour when he was attacked.
Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee has described the MHA orders as the central government’s “brazen interference to control” officers in Bengal, finding support from several of her non-BJP counterparts across the country.
Centre is brazenly interfering with State Govt functioning by transferring police officers. My gratitude to @bhupeshbaghel @ArvindKejriwal @capt_amarinder @ashokgehlot51 & @mkstalin for showing solidarity to people of Bengal & reaffirming their commitment to federalism.Thank you!
— Mamata Banerjee (@MamataOfficial) December 20, 2020
Sunday marked the second day of Shah’s visit to Bengal. He also held a massive roadshow in Bolpur, and visited Visva-Bharati University.
Shah’s roadshow in Bolpur was his first in the state this year, and he expressed elation at the huge crowd in attendance, calling it a sign of imminent change in Bengal.
The BJP has made inroads into Birbhum, a Trinamool stronghold, in recent times. Though it didn’t win either of the district’s two Lok Sabha seats in 2019, it held the lead in five of the 11 assembly segments.
‘No President’s Rule’
At the media interaction, Shah also dismissed Mamata’s claims suggesting that the central government has plans to impose President’s Rule in West Bengal ahead of the assembly polls early next year.
He said Mamata Banerjee’s “apprehensions and repetitive mentions” about Article 356 of the Constitution are only meant to draw public sympathy. Such complex issues, he added, should only be discussed between the state and central governments, and not in public.
Just earlier this week, Mamata challenged the central government to impose President’s Rule in West Bengal, amid a bitter face-off between the two sides as the BJP tries to end her reign that began in 2011.
The statement followed calls from BJP leaders in the state to impose President’s Rule to ensure “free and fair elections”, amid “an increasing number of “political murders, clashes and collapse of law and order in West Bengal”.
Among other things, Shah said rules for the controversial Citizenship Amendment Act — which seeks to ease citizenship for refugees of minority communities from India’s Muslim-majority neighbours Pakistan, Bangladesh and Afghanistan — would be framed soon, without offering any more details. However, he didn’t mention the National Register of Citizens (NRC), an initiative that he had sought to link with the CAA in speeches made last year.
The NRC has been one of the primary planks deployed by Mamata to attack the BJP, with the chief minister describing the initiative as a divisive ploy.
Shah’s first roadshow in Bengal in 2020
Elated by the massive gathering at his roadshow, Shah called it the “best” he had seen in his life.
Addressing supporters at the end of the roadshow, he said “change is in the offing in Bengal”, adding that people will vote for development and removal of “bhanje ki dadagiri (strongarm tactics of the nephew)”, a reference to Trinamool Congress’ heir apparent and Mamata’s nephew Abhishek, a Lok Sabha MP.
“People will not just remove one party or leader, they will be voting against bhanje ki dadagiri, against tolabaji (extortion), against illegal immigrants from Bangladesh. People will vote for development and a ‘Sonar Bangla’,” he said. “I am touched by the enthusiasm.”
He described the “unexpected” turnout as a reflection of “pent-up anger against the ruling dispensation of the state”.
“I have carried out multiple roadshows across the country. But I have never seen such spontaneous participation. It is the best roadshow ever. People have reposed faith in Narendra Modi ji,” he said.
Bengal is yearning for a “parivartan (change)” — effecting “poriborton” was the catchphrase Mamata used in her successful 2011 campaign — and people will end the “misrule” of Mamata in the upcoming elections, he added.