West Bengal Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee on Tuesday alleged that the BJP was spending crores of rupees to topple the Shiv Sena-led government in Maharashtra, further raising concerns over the fate of the country's federal structure.
Ms Banerjee also lashed out at the BJP-led Centre over the arrests of Alt News co-founder Mohammed Zubair and social activist Teesta Setalvad for "trying to expose the truth".
The Trinamool boss complained that a section of media never bothers to report about such matters, but focuses all of their attention on “trivial issues involving opposition parties”.
"Why have you arrested Mohammed Zubair and Teesta Setalvad? What wrong have they done? Does speaking out the truth or exposing the truth a crime? Those who are speaking out against this government are either harassed by using agencies or arrested," the Chief Minster said.
Major opposition parties and media organisations have condemned Mr Zubair's arrest on Monday by the Delhi Police for allegedly hurting religious sentiments in one of his tweets. On Tuesday, the Editors Guild of India termed it "extremely disturbing" and demanded his immediate release.
Ms Setalvad was on Saturday evening taken into custody by the Gujarat Anti Terrorist Squad (ATS) from Mumbai in connection with an FIR registered against her at the Ahmedabad city crime branch.
Ms Banerjee, during her address to party workers in Asansol area of Paschim Bardhaman district, said, “The BJP government is busy morphing pictures and videos on social media. It is them who circulate fake videos and propagate lies and propaganda on social media. They have the money to keep pushing fake news and narratives on the social media.” In an apparent reference to controversial remarks by suspended BJP leader Nupur Sharma on Prophet Mohammad, she alleged that those who had been spreading hatred and violence in the country are not being taken to task.
"I won't take names, but it is the BJP leaders who talk ill about other religions and yet don't get arrested. In fact, even if they commit murders, they won't be questioned. If any opposition leader talks about that murder, however, they will be harassed, arrested. This is the reality of India today," she claimed.
The Chief Minister sought to know why security was being accorded to people who “incited violence”.
“The Bengal government is not like the BJP; the Kolkata Police has issued summons to the leader who instigated communal violence," she stated.
Attacking the Centre over the ‘Agnipath' recruitment scheme for armed forces, she said it was a "major scam and another example of Jumla politics" ahead of the 2024 Lok Sabha polls.
“I have recently received a communication from a colonel who requested that Agniveers, after four years of service in armed forces, be given the opportunity to be state government employees. It is a mess created by the Centre, and they have to clean it. We will not take the onus," she asserted.
She gave a clarion call for the ouster of the BJP-led NDA government, stating that "time has come to put an end to the anti-people regime".
Talking about the Maharashtra crisis, she said, "The BJP is spending crores of rupees to topple the government in Maharashtra. Where are they getting so much money to topple an elected government of a state? Where is our country's democracy heading to? What about out federal structure? Has the BJP decided to bulldoze everything in this country," Banerjee, said.
Maharashtra is embroiled in a political turmoil, with several rebel MLAs of the ruling Shiv Sena camping in Assam, in what seems to be a bid to topple the MVA coalition government in the state.
The Chief Minister maintained that the BJP-led government is "using" its agencies against opposition parties.
"The BJP is doing whatever suits them. It is using central agencies like CBI and the ED against those who are speaking the truth," she iterated, addressing her first rally in Asansol after the party's victory in Lok Sabha bypoll in April this year.
Hitting out at a section of media for “spreading canards against opposition parties”, the Trinamool supremo said the media should start talking about the money that PM Cares received.
"The media only wants to talk about ‘cut money' in Bengal, but what about the money that was donated to the PM Cares Fund? No one dares to question it. If there is a small incident in Bengal, the media starts raising hue and cries without even bothering to cross-check facts. Why shouldn't action be taken against false news?" she questioned.
Ms Banerjee urged party workers to gear up for the upcoming Martyrs' Day rally on July 21 in the state, being held in grand manner after a gap of two years owing to COVID-19 pandemic "For the last two years, we could not hold the July 21 rally due to the COVID-19 pandemic. This year, we will make it a grand success. On that day, we will also announce new programmes," she added.
(Except for the headline, this story has not been edited by NDTV staff and is published from a syndicated feed.)