Mamata vs Centre: Support pours in from Opposition parties across country even as West Bengal CM calls protest 'non-political'

West Bengal chief minister Mamata Banerjee's indefinite dharna against the Centre, in Kolkata, kept political participants busy through Monday as effects rippled through the Parliament, the Election Commission of India's office, the Kolkata High Court and even the Supreme Court.

Her decision to protest came after the CBI's attempt to question Kolkata Police Commissioner Rajeev Kumar in connection with Saradha and Rose Valley chit fund scams. The CBI team, which went to Kumar's residence in the city's Loudon Street area Sunday, was denied permission, bundled into police jeeps and whisked to a police station.

Describing her sit-in over the CBI's attempt to question Kolkata Police chief as a "non-political" protest, Mamata on Monday said support has poured in for her from different quarters of the country. The chief minister, who has been sitting on a dharna since 8.30pm Sunday on a makeshift dais at Metro Channel in Kolkata, said she will continue her "satyagraha" till the country and its Constitution are "saved".

Mamata vs Centre: Support pours in from Opposition parties across country even as West Bengal CM calls protest non-political

West Bengal chief minister Mamata Banerjee at the sit-in venue in Kolkata on Sunday. ANI

Mamata also addressed a state conference of farmers over phone, which the participants at the Netaji Indoor Stadium heard over loudspeakers. Andhra Pradesh counterpart Chandrababu Naidu, Samajwadi Party chief Akhilesh Yadav, Madhya Pradesh chief minister Kamal Nath, Dravida Munnetra Kazhagham president MK Stalin and former Jammu and Kashmir chief minister Mehbooba Mufti were among those who called up to express solidarity to her protest.

The TMC chief accused Prime Minister Narendra Modi and BJP president Amit Shah of trying to organise a coup in the state. The BJP has retaliated in the form of a press conference organised by Union minister Ravi Shankar Prasad, who said Mamata was leading "a coalition of corruption".

Criticising reports that questioned the presence of senior police officers at the demonstration, Mamata said, "It's a programme of the government and that's why police officers are here."

TMC organises protests across Bengal

Trinamool Congress workers hit the streets from Monday morning in Hooghly, Howrah, Bankura, Burdwan East, Purulia, Birbhum and North 24 Parganas districts, officials said. Effigies of Prime Minister Narendra Modi and BJP national President Amit Shah were also burnt by them.

In Howrah and Hooghly districts, TMC activists obstructed train movement while they put up blockades on national highway in Bankura district. Shouting slogans against the CBI, the TMC cadres vowed to continue their fight till the Narendra Modi government is defeated in the next Lok Sabha polls.

Banerjee had also directed party leaders to organise protest marches across the state on Monday between 2 pm and 4 pm without inconveniencing the people.

Meanwhile, the BJP's Bengal unit tweeted that Trinamool leaders have allegedly vandalised the saffron party's offices at Bhawanipore in South Kolkata.

Supreme Court rejects urgent hearing plea

The Supreme Court rejected the CBI plea to conduct an urgent hearing on the investigation in the Saradha and Rose Valley chit fund scam. The apex court bench led by Chief Justice of India Ranjan Gogoi said that it did not find anything in the application regarding destruction of evidence. The bench posted the matter for hearing on Tuesday.

Chief Justice of India Ranjan Gogoi posted the matter for hearing at 10.30 am on Tuesday.

The CBI approached the Supreme Court against the "non-cooperation" of the West Bengal government after the Kolkata Police detained and then released CBI officials who visited Kolkata to question Rajeev Kumar. Solicitor general Tushar Mehta, who is representing CBI in the court that these were "some extraordinary circumstances".

File image of Calcutta High Court. Wikimedia commons

File image of Calcutta High Court. Wikimedia commons

Calcutta High Court refuses immediate hearing to Bengal government

The Calcutta High Court on Monday refused immediate hearing on the West Bengal government's plea against the CBI's attempt to question city police chief Rajeev Kumar at his residence in connection with chit fund scam cases. Following objection by the Union government, Justice Shivakant Prasad refused to give the matter an immediate hearing and listed it for Tuesday.

State Advocate General Kishore Dutta submitted that despite a stay by the high court on steps regarding notice to state police officials, the CBI sought to enter Kumar's residence on Sunday and question him.

He submitted that the court is scheduled to hear the matter on 13 February and as such, the CBI's attempt to enter Kumar's official residence was in violation of its order.

West Bengal governor KN Tripathi, meanwhile, submitted a confidential report to Union home minister Rajnath Singh on the situation that unfolded in the city.

Ruckus at the Lok Sabha

The Lok Sabha, meanwhile, was not allowed to function amidst opposition parties' shouting "CBI totah hai" ("the CBI is a caged parrot") following the high political face-off between the Centre and the Mamata Banerjee-led West Bengal government. Union Home Minister Rajnath Singh defended the move by CBI saying Rajeev Kumar was not cooperating in the investigation in the case.

"Detaining CBI officials from performing their duties is unprecedented. The action was taken after the Supreme Court had ordered an investigation into Saradha chit fund case," Rajnath said in the Lok Sabha.

"The Police Commissioner was summoned many times before but he did not appear. Hence, CBI was forced to take this action. He was not cooperating in the investigation," he added.

Soon after his speech, Speaker Sumitra Mahajan adjourned the Lok Sabha till 2 pm.

When the House resumed later, it was again adjourned for the entire day as the Opposition protests continued over the issue.

BJP goes to Election Commission of India

The BJP on Monday accused the Trinamool Congress government in West Bengal of not allowing its political programmes in the state and sought the Election Commission's intervention so that the Lok Sabha polls can be held in a "free and fair" manner, reported News18.

A high-level BJP delegation submitted a memorandum to the poll panel to highlight instances that show that the TMC does not "believe" in democracy, Union Minister Nirmala Sitharaman, who was also a member of the group, told reporters.

Besides Sitharaman, the other members of the delegation included Union ministers Mukhtar Abbas Naqvi and S S Ahluwalia, and BJP leaders Kailash Vijayvargiya, Bhupender Yadav, Anil Baluni and Mukul Roy.

With inputs from agencies

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Updated Date: Feb 04, 2019 16:54:31 IST

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