West Bengal Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee made a fiery speech at Delhi’s Constitutional Club of India on Tuesday. Invited to speak on a theme ‘Love your neighbour,’ Banerjee also used the opportunity to target the central government on the rampant politics of hate in the country.
Referring to the incidents of lynchings in BJP-ruled Jharkhand, she said that the BJP can replicate the same in Uttar Pradesh, Uttarakhand and Bihar. “What happened in Jharkhand, it may happen in Chhattisgarh, Bihar, Uttarakhand, in Rajasthan and Uttar Pradesh. It will not happen in West Bengal. Not even in Andhra Pradesh because Chandrababu Naidu ji is there. Karnataka may not be either because Kumaraswamy ji there,” she thundered.
Without naming Prime Minister Narendra Modi she attacked his government over the NRC fiasco in Assam, saying that people were being victimised to win elections and it would lead to a bloodbath and civil war.
Addressing a conclave by the Catholic Bishops’ Conference of India in Delhi, Banerjee took several digs at the Modi-led Central government and accused it of interfering with the judiciary.
She expressed her shock that even family members of India’s former President, Fakhruddin Ali Ahmed, had failed to find their names in the National Register of Citizens.
Banerjee also accused the Bharatiya Janata Party of trying to divide people. “I am Christian, that’s why I will be isolated. I am Dalit, that’s why I will be isolated. I am Muslim, that’s why I will be isolated. If this goes like this, don’t you think it will create civil war and bloodbath in the country?” Banerjee said.
She added, “I don’t understand the audacity. They say ‘now this is Assam. Next we will come to Bengal.’ And then they will decide who will be staying in Bengal and Assam. Who will be staying in the country and who will not…India is our motherland and we love our motherland. Anybody from any part of India can stay anywhere in the country….”
She then went on to invoke her humble upbringing adding that she will ensure that nobody was deprived till she was alive. “I want to see my motherland united. I don’t want to see my motherland divided.”
Over 40 lakh people were excluded in the final draft list of the NRC released on Monday (July 30).
“What is going on and what can be, it is more alarming. Only to win the election, only to win the battle, people cannot be victimised. Now they say these people cannot vote also. If they don’t vote, if their list doesn’t exist, don’t you think they will lose their identity,” Banerjee said.
“Where they will get food, how they will go to school. How they will go for employment, nobody will allow them. Nobody will allow them to go to office. Where will they go, where will their children will go. We will not let them die. We want they should survive,” she added.
She also alleged that the BJP-led government at the Centre was beginning to get paranoid about her soaring popularity. This, she felt, was the reason why her series of programmes had been cancelled in the recent past including the one by St. Stephens College in Delhi.
“I don’t know whether you got threatened or not… that’s why Mamata Banerjee is coming. I do not know. Wherever I am going, they are cancelling the programme. I don’t mind. Because they think that convention hall is enough for me. For me, the road is better. I can go to the road and meet people,” she said.
Banerjee’s speech lasted for more than 20 minutes and she spoke in impromptu English all throughout. Despite not being known to be proficient in English, she spoke eloquently as her speech was met with a thunderous applause on several occasions.
She sounded ready to lead the challenge for 2019 Lok Sabha elections. Going by her speech, it appeared the West Bengal chief minister was battle-ready for 2019.