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In Delhi, Mamata Banerjee to meet PM, attend I.N.D.I.A bloc meeting

New Delhi/Kolkata: West Bengal Chief Minister and TMC supremo Mamata Banerjee on Sunday arrived in Delhi on a four-day visit, during which she is scheduled to meet Prime Minister Narendra Modi, her party’s MPs and attend a meeting of the opposition I.N.D.I.A bloc.

Before leaving Kolkata, she told reporters at the airport there that she will meet the prime minister to seek the release of central funds due to West Bengal.

“They (the Centre) have stopped our funds and are not willing to release our dues. Bengal is the only state whose funds have been withheld,” the chief minister said.

“We will raise our voice against this and we are raising our voice against this. This will be a part (of the meeting with the PM). This is why I am going to Delhi,” she said.

She also expressed concern over the December 13 Parliament security breach and said it was a “serious matter”.

In the national capital, Banerjee will hold a meeting with Trinamool Congress (TMC) MPs on Monday, and on Tuesday, she will participate in the meeting of the Indian National Developmental Inclusive Alliance (I.N.D.I.A).

Banerjee is scheduled to meet Prime Minister Modi at 11 am on December 20 along with some TMC MPs over the issue of pending central funds of West Bengal.

On the Parliament security breach, the chief minister said in Kolkata that “there was a great lapse… the Union home minister has already admitted that”. “Let them investigate it,” Banerjee said

In a major security breach on the anniversary of the 2001 Parliament terror attack, two men jumped into the Lok Sabha chamber from the public gallery during the Zero Hour, released yellow-coloured smoke from canisters and raised slogans, before being overpowered by MPs.

Chief Minister Banerjee also claimed that members of the opposition who raised their voice over the breach issue were suspended. “Derek O’Brien (TMC MP), and 14 other opposition MPs were suspended from Parliament for this,” she said.

Lok Sabha Speaker Om Birla on Saturday had rejected suggestions that the suspension of 13 opposition members was linked to their protests over the security breach issue. They were suspended from the House “purely to uphold” its sanctity, he had said.

He had said that “at the time of the inauguration of the new building of our Parliament, we had resolved that we will refrain from bringing placards inside the House and we will not create ruckus in the Well of the House”.

It is indeed unfortunate that some members and political parties are linking the decision of the House to suspend these members to the security breach, Speaker Birla had said.

On allegations that Lalit Jha, the alleged mastermind of the security breach, was associated with the TMC’s youth wing, Banerjee in Kolkata said he has no connection with West Bengal.

“He has some connection with Jharkhand or some other state, I am not sure about this,” said Banerjee, whose party has dismissed the allegations. She demanded “an unbiased investigation” into the December 13 incident.

“We must be responsible while making comments. They (the BJP) have a habit of maligning Bengal and spreading nuisance. Bengal doesn’t support any kind of wrongdoing,” she said.

While referring to the Centre’s directive to paint health centres in the saffron colour, she hit out at the BJP and alleged that the party was even trying to decide what people should eat or wear.

“You can see all the Metro stations are being painted saffron. I was surprised to see that all houses in Sukna in Siliguri have been painted saffron. We will raise our voices on this as well,” she added.

“Why should we paint the health centres saffron? We have already them painted in blue and white which is not our party colour, but our state government’s brand. We were the first to start a colour code. Is it at every place that we have to put up the BJP party logo and paint in the BJP colour?” Banerjee said

This is a well-planned conspiracy to confuse people, she alleged.

(Published 17 December 2023, 15:52 IST)

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