West Bengal Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee broke her silence on a controversy that was sparked after a BJP youth wing leader announced a bounty on the TMC chief. Responding firmly to his remarks she said that one can threaten or call her names but nobody can scare her.
Without naming anyone, Banerjee said, “They can abuse me, vilify me and conspire against me. They can abuse me as much as they want. I pray to God to forgive them. They do not know what they are saying. I will not say anything more.”
In an apparent reference to the Hindutva brigade, she told a public meeting here, “If anyone says that being a Hindu I can’t go to a mosque or a church, it cannot be so. I am committed to the people. I am committed to protect everyone. There is no use threatening me.”
“The more you threaten or call me names, the more I will proceed... Your criticism will be blessings for us. That will help us move forward. Now we are in Bengal. We will move to Bihar, Odisha, Jharkhand and then to Delhi,” she said.
She also reiterated that the people would decide what they want to eat or what they wear. No political party can decide that, she said and asked the people not to get provoked by any instigation.
“Do not fall prey to false propaganda spread through the Internet and social networking site. Social networks have been used to spread false rumours in lieu of money. Huge funds from abroad are coming in for this.”
“Don’t be scared. Always remember that I am there as your biggest custodian,” Banerjee said.
Referring to the brandishing of swords at Ram Navami processions by RSS affiliates, she said, “Some locals have popped up suddenly asking people to play with swords. That’s not the Bengal’s culture,” she said adding “Let them learn Bengal’s culture first, then comment about the state”.
“There is no need to give importance to them,” she said.
On the other hand, a Muslim cleric, known for announcing fatwas against political leaders including PM Modi and author Salman Rushdie, made a counter-offer of Rs 22 lakh for the BJP youth wing leader’s head who announced a reward of Rs 11 lakh for beheading West Bengal chief minister Mamata Banerjee.
BJP youth wing disowns Yogesh Varshney
The BJP’s youth wing has disowned its leader Yogesh Varshney, who had announced a Rs 11 lakh bounty on West Bengal Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee’s head, and demanded legal action against him.
“BJYM stands against the statements made by Yogesh Varshney, and also urges the local administration to take all the necessary legal actions against him as per law,” Bharatiya Janata Yuva Morcha said in a statement, adding Varshney was expelled two years ago from the party.
Varshney on Wednesday courted controversy by announcing a bounty of Rs 11 lakh for TMC chief Banerjee’s head after the police in her state used batons to disperse a rally raising slogans in praise of Lord Rama on Hanuman Jayanti.
“BJYM has nothing to do with Yogesh Varshney. BJYM has no alignments to the statements made by him about West Bengal Chief Minister Mamta Bannerjee,” BJYM said.
Leaders across political parties have condemned as “barbaric” a BJP youth wing leader’s offer of a Rs 11 lakh bounty on the head of West Bengal Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee with his remark setting off an uproar in Parliament.
The TMC, which is led by Banerjee, demanded the immediate arrest of Yogesh Varshney, a leader of the Bharatiya Janata Yuva Morcha (BJYM), while the BJP distanced itself from the controversial remark.
The Centre also roundly condemned the statement and said the West Bengal government was free to take legal action against Varshney.
“Mamata government beat up people. If someone was wearing a red shirt or a red pant, they were beaten up brutally by the police. I don’t understand...Mamata Banerjee organises Iftar party, she argues for the Muslims. I want to ask her are Hindus not human?
“If they had any humanity, they wouldn’t have beaten up like this.If anyone brings me her severed head, I will give that person Rs 11 lakh,” Varshney said in Aligarh while criticising the police action on a rally in Suri in Birbhum district in West Bengal where slogans in praise of Lord Rama on Hanuman Jayanti yesterday were raised.
As the Parliament roundly condemned the statement, the Centre said the West Bengal government was “free to take legal action” against him.
The issue was raised in both the Houses by Trinamool Congress(TMC) members, with all major political parties and the government condemning the statement.
In the Rajya Sabha, Deputy Chairman P J Kurien said the state government can register an FIR and take action.
Raising this issue during Zero Hour in the Upper House, TMC member Sukhendu Sekhar Roy asked the House and the government to condemn the statement, saying “a constitutionally elected CM has been described as a demon.”
He said the Centre was trying to “unleash a reign of terror” in West Bengal in the name of religion and other things.
Minister of State for Parliamentary Affairs Mukhtar Abbas Naqvi said: “I strongly condemn such type of statements. The state government is free to take appropriate legal action on this issue”.
“On such people action can be taken under the the law. An FIR should be registered. Law should take its own course,” Kurian said, adding that “you raised this issue. Minister has condemned it...No need of discussion on that”.
BSP supremo Mayawati termed it as a “serious matter” and said “BJP should not just condemn the statement, but should also take action.”
Other opposition parties including Congress, Left and SP, also supported TMC on this issue and condemned the incident.
Jaya Bachchan (SP) said there was a need to take “aggressive” steps for protection of women. “You can protect cows and women are facing atrocities,” she added.
“How dare somebody talk like this”, especially against women Chief Minister paticularly when women are feeling insecure. “Is this the way you are going to protect women,” Bachchan asked.
BJP member Roopa Ganguly said she too was a woman and “I was beaten up by 17 goons of TMC in front of policemen. The Chief Minister who is also a women should answer this.”
In the Lok Sabha too, the BJP youth leader’s bounty offer was condemned by all sides, with Parliamentary Affairs Minister Ananth Kumar saying such a statement by anyone was completely wrong and the government strongly condemns it.
“She is an elected Chief Minister and due respect must be given to her. We strongly condemn it,” Kumar said.
Speaker Sumitra Mahajan said there have been many unpleasant incidents in the political discourse in recent past and everyone must work together to improve it. “This is completely wrong. All sides must exercise restraint.”
Raising the issue soon after the House assembled to take up the day’s business, TMC member Saugata Roy said “Mamata Banerjee is not only an elected Chief Minister but a former member of this House too. It is a serious and alarming behaviour and the House must condemn it. She is a grassroot leader and government must take action on it.”
Fully supporting Roy, Congress leader Mallikarjun Kharge said his party fully associated with the sentiment and such incident must not happen anywhere.
“A strong message should go from the government against such behaviour and action must be taken against the guilty.”
TMC secretary general Partha Chatterjee said in Kolkata that the threat has been issued by “rogue element of politics” and asked why Varshney was not arrested immediately.
BJP general secretary Kailash Vijayvargiya, who is in charge of the party in West Bengal, said that he condemned such statement which propagated violence.
“We do not agree with such remarks. There is anger against Mamataji for her appeasement politics, but (we) cannot support violence. We condemn such statements.”
BJP’s West Bengal unit president Dilip Ghosh said his party was against politics of violence and hatred and demanded action against him.
“Such kind of statements have nothing to do with healthy politics. This is nothing but a reflection of an unstable mind,” Ghosh told reporters in Kolkata.
The Congress and the Left Front also came down heavily on Varshney.
“We are against such cheap statements. Such kind of statements not only propagate violence but also create an atmosphere of polarisation. Immediate action should be taken against him,” state Congress president Adhir Chowdhury said.
“Strong action should be taken against him. Police should immediately take action. This is completely barbaric and uncivilised,” senior CPI(M) leader Sujan Chakraborty said.
(With inputs from PTI)