KOLKATA: Chief minister Mamata Banerjee on Saturday led a protest march over a four-km stretch in central Kolkata — the first time during the pandemic — against the Yogi Adityanath government’s “muzzling of democracy” at Hathras.
With the victim’s family off limits to the media and politicians on Thursday and Friday, Banerjee called BJP the “greatest pandemic” and feared that the country was heading towards a “presidential form of government”.
“No one is being allowed to speak, not even the officers. BJP is the greatest pandemic. All others are under threat. Members of the Trinamool MP delegation to Hathras were stopped and woman member Pratima Mondal was manhandled a kilometre ahead of the victim’s house. There is no justice. The talk is about one nation-one leader-one party. The country is heading towards a presidential form of government, a dictatorial government, a government of agencies (central investigating agencies),” the CM said in front of the Gandhi Statue on Mayo Road.
Saying that she would stand by Dalits and minorities whenever they face torture, Banerjee said: “You can’t stop me by raising the appeasement chorus. I have come here to uphold the Dalit cause. I am a Dalit today, an Adivasi tomorrow. You don’t ask my surname when I speak for Hindus. You have been saying that the Bengal government doesn’t allow Durga Puja and Saraswati Puja. Why did the Yogi government try to stop Durga Puja celebrations in Uttar Pradesh?” she asked.
The Trinamool chief pointed out how Dalits have got a raw deal under BJP rule. “Before elections, they eat with members of a Dalit family and torture them after elections are over,” she said.
Holding a torch light and donning a black towel on her shoulders, Banerjee reminded her supporters of the 26-day hunger strike she had launched during Left Front rule in 2006 against the gang rape and murder of a Dalit girl (Tapasi Malik) from Singur.
The TMC chief wanted the party’s women and student-youth wings to continue with the demonstration against Dalit torture till October 17 — the onset of “Devipaksha”. “Reach out to SC villages, tell them about the plight of Dalits under BJP rule. Namasudras are the most oppressed,” she said, in a bid to redo a Singur-type movement against BJP.
Banerjee’s Dalit-Muslim equation suffered in the 2019 Lok Sabha polls when many SC seats, including those dominated by Matuas and Namasudras in North 24 Parganas, slipped away from TMC.
The Bengal CM also told the gathering how the BJP government forcibly passed three farm bills in Parliament, taking away rice, pulses and potato from the list of essential commodities.
“BJP is a shame for the country,” she said, trying to revive the Dalit-Muslim-farmer strategy that paid her rich dividends against Left Front rule.