A careless remark made by West Bengal Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee that appeared to indirectly encourage Trinamool Congress supporters to take to the streets in case investigators from the federal agency showed up at her door has sparked heated discussions in the state’s political and legal circles.
At a crowd gathering in south Kolkata late on Sunday night, the chief minister said, “Are you all scared? What will you do if they reach my house tomorrow? Will you not hit the streets? Will you not fight the democratic battle?”
The chief minister’s remarks have been characterised by the state’s opposition parties as a reflection of her concern that she and her family would come under investigation by central agencies as part of their investigation into numerous corruption cases.
Samik Bhattacharya, the state BJP spokesperson for West Bengal, questioned why the chief minister was encouraging her party members while the federal agencies had not yet provided any indication that something like to a raid on the chief minister’s doorstep may occur. He questioned, “Is it an indirect admission of involvement in corruption apprehending probable central agency actions in the coming days.”
According to Robin Deb, a member of the CPI-M central committee, the chief minister’s body language and remarks show that she is afraid. Otherwise, he continued, “she would have said let the agencies do their job.” The state’s legal minds are divided over whether the chief minister’s remarks were an underhanded crime urging her supporters to discourage public officials from carrying out their duty.
Bikash Ranjan Bhattacharya, a prominent attorney for the Calcutta High Court and a Rajya Sabha representative for the CPI-M, claims that the chief minister impliedly acknowledged her direct involvement in corruption.
“At the same time, she has committed a criminal offence by instigating her inane party workers to hit the streets if CBI sleuths reach her doorsteps. This happens when lawbreakers come to power,” he added.