Sandeshkhali Issue Conspiracy By BJP, Congress And CPM: Abhishek Banerjee

Sources said the Trinamool Congress National General Secretary made the allegation during a meeting to discuss the party's preparations for the Lok Sabha elections.

Sandeshkhali Issue Conspiracy By BJP, Congress And CPM: Abhishek Banerjee

Mr Banerjee also unveiled the party's slogan for the 2024 Lok Sabha elections.


The political wrangling over the allegations of women being harassed in West Bengal's Sandeshkhali loomed large over a Trinamool Congress meeting to prepare for the Lok Sabha polls, with senior party leader Abhishek Banerjee claiming that the issue is a conspiracy created by the BJP, Congress and the CPM, sources have told NDTV. 

The Trinamool National General Secretary also questioned why Governor CV Ananda Bose had visited Sandeshkhali at the BJP's request but not Chopra - where four children died after falling in a pit dug for a drain - and asked his party leaders to highlight the alleged manhandling of Trinamool MPs by the Delhi police. 

The BJP has alleged that women in Sandeshkhali were raped and sexually harassed by aides of local Trinamool strongman Sheikh Shahjahan. The Trinamool, on the other hand, has accused the BJP of attempting to foment trouble, and the state police have said they have received no complaints of rape. 

BJP and Congress delegations which were headed to Sandeshkhali were also stopped by the police on Friday. 

Addressing a closed-door meeting with party leaders later in the day to discuss strategies for the Lok Sabha elections, Mr Banerjee, who is the nephew of West Bengal Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee, lashed out at the BJP, Congress and the CPM and said that the Sandeshkhali issue was a conspiracy hatched by the three parties, sources said. The Trinamool had recently said it will contest the Lok Sabha elections on its own in West Bengal. 

'Children's Lives Have No Value?'

Mr Banerjee, who addressed the meeting via video link, also said there was silence from all quarters on the death of children in North Dinajpur's Chopra.

Four children had died in Chopra after falling in a pit dug for a drain and the Trinamool has accused the Border Security Force of negligence. It has alleged that the central paramilitary force, which was in charge of the drain project, was carrying out expansion work without sanction from the authorities. 

"On the death of children in Chopra, all are silent. Do the lives of those children hold no value," sources quoted the Trinamool national general secretary as asking.

"Our delegation met Governor Bose and asked him to visit Chopra. He is yet to visit. When the BJP delegation met him, he went to Sandeshkhali within 24 hours. It shows what his priorities are," he said. 

The Lok Sabha privileges committee's summons to Bengal officials after state BJP President and MP Sukanta Majumdar's complaint also came up during the meeting. "The BJP MP slipped from a car (on Wednesday) and summons were sent. Where was this parliamentary committee when our MPs were brutally assaulted and female MPs were dragged by their hair?" the Trinamool leader asked. 

New Election Slogan

On the preparations for the Lok Sabha polls, which will begin in about two months, a source said Mr Banerjee told party workers. "There is no time to wait, hit the streets against BJP now." 

The Trinamool leader also unveiled the party's slogan for the 2024 Lok Sabha elections, which will be 'Zamindari Hatao, Bangla Bachao'.

Abhishek Banerjee also spoke about the alleged "brutality" by the Delhi Police during last year's protests by the Trinamool Congress in connection with the pending MGNREGA (Mahatma Gandhi National Rural Employment Guarantee Scheme) dues. Several Trinamool MPs and leaders were allegedly manhandled and forcibly removed by the police during the protests in October last year. 

Sources said the Trinamool Congress is planning to make the announcement of the state paying the dues and the Centre withholding them a major poll plank in Bengal. Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee had declared earlier this month that her government would transfer funds directly to the bank accounts of 21 lakh MGNREGA workers in the state.  

"Over 3,300 camps to help people will be set up across the state in every zone and we should start engaging with the public in these camps," Mr Banerjee is reported to have told party leaders during the meeting. 

 "I would request all leaders to visit every household and tell people how our woman leaders, like Birbaha Hansda and Mahua Moitra, among others, were assaulted by the Delhi police," he said.