"Build Gallows In Public": Mamata Banerjee's Nephew On "Tolabaj" Slurs

Mr Banerjee has been relentlessly targeted by the BJP with cries of "tolabaj bhaipo", or "extortionist nephew", ahead of Assembly elections due in Bengal in a few months

'Build Gallows In Public': Mamata Banerjee's Nephew On 'Tolabaj' Slurs

The BJP has targeted Trinamool MP Abhishek Banerjee, who is Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee's nephew

Kolkata:

Trinamool MP Abhishek Banerjee hit back Thursday at extortion allegations leveled against him by the BJP, inviting the opposition party to "build gallows in public (so I can) embrace death" if they can prove the charges.

"They are attacking me everyday. They say 'remove the extortionist nephew'. I have said this earlier and I am saying this again in front of the cameras here. If you can prove that I am involved in extortion and if you can prove I am involved in any wrongdoing, you don't have to send the Enforcement Directorate and CBI after me. Build gallows in public and I will embrace death," Mr Banerjee said at an event in Bengal's South Dinajpur district.

The public meeting, which was streamed live on Facebook, showed Mr Banerjee, who is Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee's nephew, standing on a wooden platform with hundreds of Trinamool gathered around and many more packed on the rooftops of neighbouring buildings, loudly cheering him on.

Mr Banerjee has been relentlessly targeted by the opposition party ahead of Assembly elections due in Bengal in a few months. For weeks, "tolabaj bhaipo", or "extortionist nephew" has been the party's punch line in an already bitter campaign against Ms Banerjee, whom the party has also accused of nepotism by favouring and propping up her nephew.

On Tuesday Union Minister Anurag Thakur took his shot, comparing Mr Banerjee to sheikhs in the Gulf countries - an allusion to the Lok Sabha MP's growing influence in the ruling party.

Former Trinamool leader Suvendu Adhikari, whose high-profile exit and controversial switch to the BJP was followed by that of nearly 60 other leaders, has been at the forefront of his new party's calls for "tolabaj bhaipo hatao", or "remove the extortionist nephew".

Last month Mr Banerjee counterattacked and said it was Mr Adhikari who was the extortionist.

"It is your name in the Sarada scam. You are the tolabaj. And you dare to say tolabaj bhaipo hatao? My friend, I am neither in Sarada nor in Narada. Enforcement Directorate, CBI will get nothing by tracking me. Do what you please," he said.

Yesterday Mr Banerjee also sent a legal notice to Union Minister Babul Supriyo, for allegedly making "defamatory and false statements" in connection with links to an illegal coal mafia.

The BJP and the Trinamool are locked in increasingly vicious rhetoric ahead of elections. At stake is control of Bengal, where the BJP has never managed to win power.

Home Minister Amit Shah has set his party a target of 200 of 294 seats and warned opponents against underestimating the BJP, particularly after it won 18 seats in last year's Lok Sabha election.

The Trinamool has dismissed the BJP's aim to form a government in Bengal as "daydreaming" and has said it is confident of retaining power despite the large-scale defections.