Bengal Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee today gave an exoneration of sorts to Prime Minister Narendra Modi on the issue of businessmen under the radar of investigative agencies fleeting the country. That blame, she said, should go to the “BJP leaders (who) are conspiring”, pointing out that the CBI now reports to the Union Home Ministry, controlled by Union Home Minister Amit Shah.
“Businessmen are leaving the country and running away. They are running away because of fear and misuse of ED (Enforcement Directorate) and the CBI (Central Bureau of Investigation). I believe Modi hasn’t done this,” Mamata Banerjee said in the Bengal assembly during a debate initiated by her party, Trinamool Congress, on central investigative agencies being “misused by the Centre”.
“Many of you don’t know that the CBI doesn’t report to the PMO (Prime Minister’s Office) anymore. It reports to the Home Ministry. Some BJP leaders are conspiring and they go to Nizam Palace often,” the Chief Minister added.
The comments were surprising for Mamata Banerjee, who has always been an aggressive critic of PM Modi and Amit Shah.
The BJP’s Suvendu Adhikari, her former aide, suggested that she was trying to help her nephew and party MP Abhishek Banerjee, who is being questioned by the Enforcement Directorate in connection with the coal scam in the state.
“The BJP will not fall for this ploy. She is trying to save herself and her nephew,” Mr Adhikari said.
Bengal took forward the opposition complaint that that the BJP-led government at the Centre is using Central investigative agencies against opposition leaders by passing the resolution in the state assembly today.
Declaring that the resolution is not meant to condemn anyone, the Chief Minister said it is about being “unbiased”.
Ms Banerjee, however, had other complaints about the Prime Minister. PM Modi, she indicated, was guilty of listening to his advisors on the subject of cheetahs that he released with great fanfare on his birthday.
“I advise the PM with due respect. They advise you stop funds for Bengal. Why don’t they advise you stop buying cheetahs? I wished the PM yesterday. I advise him not to mix party and government… You are trying to control the nation by using Pegasus. You will be sacrificed one day. Everyone’s phone is tracked,” Ms Banerjee said.
But her sharpest attack was reserved for Suvendu Adhikari, the BJP’s biggest leader in the state.
“How many raids have been conducted at the house of your leader?” Ms Banerjee said during the lengthy debate that preceded the voting, targeting Mr Adhikari, who is wanted in several corruption cases.