Amid scornful remarks from Opposition parties like the BJP and the Left, Bengal Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee on Tuesday left for Delhi where she will meet Prime Minister Narendra Modi breaking after an 18-month gap since they last met for a few moments at the convocation of Vishwabharati University.
While Banerjee claimed minutes before leaving for the Capital that meeting the Prime Minister was within her official duty and that the meeting was long overdue “because I have to discuss some matters like pending Central grants, renaming of the State of West Bengal,” as also some other issues that may come in between during the conversation.
She is also likely to relate to the Prime Minister the “popular concern regarding steps being taken to privatise Air India, BSNL and even the Indian Railways,” Banerjee said adding “the people often cannot reach him as they don’t have that access so they come to us. So I have decided to take this issue with him.”
The Chief Minister would not react to the loaded remarks from the Opposition leaders who questioned her sudden decision to meet the Prime Minister at a time when the Central Bureau of Investigation probing the multi-crore Sharada chit fund case was almost on the verge of arresting one of her blue-eyed IPS officers and former Kolkata Commissioner of Police Rajiv Kumar for his alleged role in the investigation of the ponzi scam in 2013 before the Supreme Court finally handed over the case to the CBI.
Banerjee said “all the 365 days I am tied down in Kolkata on account of the huge work load. But the same responsibility demands a visit or two to Delhi where a Chief Minister has to go to get many works done in the interest of the State… This is a constitutional obligation to meet the Prime Minister,” irrespective of the political differences.
The BJP and the Left however took a dig at Banerjee “not for her constitutional obligations as the Chief Minister to meet the Prime Minister but the time of the visit,” said senior CPI(M) leader and former MP Samik Lahiri. “Let us see what the outcome of the talks is, particularly at a time when the CBI has zeroed in on Rajiv Kumar for his dubious role in the chit fund investigation,” he said.
Questioning the timing of the visit BJP leader and the party’s minder for Bengal Kailash Vijabargiya said “this is the same Chief Minister who declined the invites of the Central Government to visit Delhi during the Niti Ayog meeting, or the meeting of the Chief Ministers or even the meeting on the education policy. Now suddenly she has been reminded of her responsibilities as a Chief Minister when the CBI is tightening its noose around Rajeev Kumar.”
He said, “Mamata Banerjee knows that if Rajeev Kumar is arrested then he will spill the bins and half of her ministerial colleagues will go to jail.”
State BJP vice president LP Majumdar scoffed at Banerjee saying “not very long ago the same Chief Minister was telling packed crowds about her designs to tie Narendra Modi with ropes and put him behind the bar and now she is running to him perhaps to save some of her trusted bureaucrats and party men.”