Kolkata: Launching a blistering attack against the Centre, West Bengal Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee today termed state Transport Minister Madan Mitra's arrest as "political vendetta" and "dirty conspiracy" by the BJP and dared the NDA government to arrest her.
"What has happened is illegal and unconstitutional. It is a dangerous step to destroy democratic institutions. My government condemns the arrest of Madan Mitra in the strictest of terms," Banerjee told reporters at the state secretariat here.
"It is a conspiracy, a very dirty conspiracy, I ask the Prime Minister to put me in jail first. He (Mitra) was called as a witness. Within a few years he was arrested. Is it not a political vendetta?" a furious Banerjee said. "I will visit Madan in SSKM Hospital (when he is taken there for medical examination). Arrest me with whatever police Narendra Modi and Amit Shah have at their disposal," she said.
Taking on the BJP leadership and its president Amit Shah, the Trinamool Congress supremo said, "We will tear open their mask, we will fight them in Delhi." "A man who has himself been arrested and chargesheeted by the CBI is pointing finger at us," Banerjee said. "It is pure political vendetta, the secular, democratic and republican fabric of the country is being destroyed," Banerjee said terming Mitra's arrest as illegal, unconstitutional as also discourteous.
She said that the Trinamool Congress would hit the streets from tomorrow and threatened to take up the issue in the Parliament. "They have cleverly arrested Madan on a Friday as Parliament will be closed on the weekend," she claimed. "Situation in India is like Emergency now, new battle has begun. We accept your challenge, my government condemns Madan Mitra's arrest in the strictest of terms," she said adding, "Centre is behaving like a coward and an autocrat, this is a dangerous and disastrous game."
"All people of Bengal are my assets, if the Centre arrests even one person illegally, I will protest," she said. Claiming that the activities of the BJP government are worse than the Emergency days during Indira Gandhi's prime ministership, she said, "He (Mitra) has taken the constitutional oath, he is my colleague in the ministry. He has taken oath not to do anything unconstitutional."
"You arrest a person who has taken a oath on Constitution just for political reasons. Without informing us you have arrested him. Is it ethical, is it courtesy?" she questioned. "The country's government has gone into the hands of RSS," Banerjee said. "Madan Mitra submitted his resignation letter, but I am not accepting it because his arrest is illegal," says Banerjee.
"They have arrested a minister without informing the Government or Speaker. Bad precedent has been set," Banerjee said and claimed that "the CBI has now become a tool of BJP". "What CBI has done is wrong. It is illegal, unconstitutional. We go to several programmes and events. Do we always enquire which company is sponsoring it," Banerjee said.
"Several media houses took advertisements from chit funds. Has any action been taken against them?" Banerjee wondered. "Are Sourav and Sachin criminals for playing under Sahara sponsorship? she said adding "there is a company in Delhi, located near the Finance Ministry, which has misappropriated funds worth thousands of crore."
"BJP is misusing power", Banerjee said. Taking a dig at BJP president Amit Shah, Banerjee said, "A person's appearance comes first and then his qualities are judged. Have you seen his appearance? It invokes fear, violence, terror, loot. He is the party president. Threats are being issued using his name like using CBI." "A few days ago at a rally, BJP raised the slogan "Bhaag Mamata Bhaag". Should we say "Bhaag BJP Bhaag from India"? Banerjee referring to a rally in Kolkata on November 30 which was addressed by Amit Shah and the party national secretary Siddharth Nath Singh.
"In spite of the atrocities committed by the CPI-M for 34 years, we did not arrest them for political vendetta", she said. "After coming to power, we never arrested anyone based on political vendetta. A few days ago, a BJP leader held a rally in Kolkata. He gave the sequence of arrests. CBI is acting as per that sequence", Banerjee said.
She however said that the agenda of governance will not be affected by politics. "So many leaders of CPM have been seen with owners of chit funds. Should we arrest them", she said. "Madan had submitted a resignation letter before going to CBI office. But I have not accepted it because the arrest is illegal. He continues as transport minister," she said.
The situation in India is like Emergency now", Banerjee said adding "we do not seek power. We are ready to support any party which wants to fight against BJP", she said. "Now battle has begun. We accept your challenge. BJP will bite the dust in upcoming elections. We will not tolerate any plan to insult the soil of Bengal," Banerjee said.
"BJP cannot take the Nation for granted. They got only 31% votes. They cannot sell off the country", she said adding they would hit the streets from tomorrow in protest. "They are trying to incite riots in Bengal. Centre is attacking Bengal. Centre is defaming Bengal's culture. We do not seek power. We are ready to support any party which wants to fight against BJP," she said.
"I dare the Prime Minister and BJP Leadership to arrest me", she said adding "this is a conspiracy to attack democracy. Central government is trying to finish off democracy in India," she said. "Where is so much money coming from to sponsor the foreign trips. What is the Centre doing about Black Money she said.
She observed that they were crossing their jurisdiction. BJP party cadre and central government are crossing all limits. "There are are so many reports of conversions. What is their priority," she said. "One Union Minister wants to make Gita the National Holy Book. India is a secular country. Constitution is the Holy Book", she said. "BJP is destroying the federal structure of Constitution," she alleged.
Questioning why Mitra was arrested within few hours after being called as a 'witness' by the CBI, Banerjee said, "Is he a thief, a dacoit or committed a murder or tried to flee?" Banerjee said, "Before going to the CBI office he (Madan) asked me whether he will go and I told him definitely you will.
" Banerjee alleged that the BJP was harbouring the thought that since they have come to power in Delhi, they would now capture (power) everywhere by using force. "This is not fair in democracy. By bringing some goons from outside if they think they will capture power it doesn't behove well in democracy," she said.