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Mamata Banerjee urges opposition leaders to unite against BJP’s ‘assault’ on democracy

The chief minister of West Bengal has urged prominent opposition leaders including Sonia Gandhi and Sharad Pawar to join hands for an action plan to counter BJP’s alleged strategy of making life difficult for states ruled by non-BJP parties.

March 31, 2021 / 06:35 PM IST

West Bengal chief minister Mamata Banerjee has personally written to top Opposition leaders, urging them to unite against the Bharatiya Janata Party’s (BJP) alleged ‘assaults’ on democracy and the constitution.

The three-page letter written on March 26 and released by TMC on March 31 ahead of the second phase of assembly elections in the state, has been addressed separately to leaders including Congress' interim president, Sonia Gandhi, NCP chief Sharad Pawar, DMK's MK Stalin, RJD's Tejashwi Yadav, Shiv Sena's Uddhav Thackeray, Aam Aadmi Party's Arvind Kejriwal, and BJD's Naveen Patnaik.

Mamata Banerjee writes to leaders incl Sonia Gandhi, Sharad Pawar, MK Stalin, Tejashwi Yadav, Uddhav Thackeray, Arvind Kejriwal, Naveen Patnaik stating, "I strongly believe that the time has come for a united & effective struggle against BJP's attacks on democracy & Constitution"

— ANI (@ANI) March 31, 2021

The Trinamool Congress chairperson has sought to drum up support from opposition leaders by stating how non-BJP states have suffered due to BJP-led Centre's alleged 'assaults' on democracy and constitutional federalism in India.

Citing the recently promulgated National Capital Territory of Delhi (Amendment) Bill, she said the law had practically snatched away powers of a democratically elected government in Delhi while vesting them in the hands of the Lieutenant Governor, a nominee of the centre.

The BJP, which has rapidly emerged as the main challenger to Banerjee's Trinamool Congress party in the hotly contested elections in West Bengal, has denied these allegations and argued that the law does not take away powers from the elected government of Delhi, and does not vest the lieutenant governor with additional authority. It said the new law only ends ambiguities and will help administration become smoother and more efficient.

Banerjee alleged in the letter that the BJP has chosen to govern Delhi, through this act, by making the CM subservient to the L-G because it is unwilling to accept its defeat at the hands of Arvind Kejriwal-led Aam Aadmi Party twice. The Act, Mamata alleges, is a direct attack on federal stricture of the Indian republic

READ: Has Mamata Banerjee erred by choosing Nandigram?

The letter says Delhi is not an exception.

"In state after state governed by BJP parties, the Centre has been creating problems for the duly elected governments by misusing the office of the governor. In many states, including, West Bengal, governors have been functioning like BJP's office bearers, and not as neutral constitutional authorities, " the letter said.

Mamata has alleged in the letter that the BJP government at the centre has been brazenly and vindictively misusing CBI, ED and other institutions against leaders and functionaries of non-BJP parties for its own partisan political ends.

"Both in West Bengal and Tamil Nadu, where assembly elections are underway, the Modi government has unleashed the ED to conduct raids on functionaries of the All India Trinamool Congress and DMK," it reads

She also alleges that, overall, the Centre-state relations and also relations between the ruling party at the Centre and Opposition parties have never been as bad in the history of independent India as they are now.

"And the blame for this rests squarely with the Prime Minister's authoritarian conduct,” the letter read

Among other allegations, the letter says there was a clear pattern and BJP wants to make it impossible for non-BJP parties to exercise their constitutional freedoms. "Therefore, I strongly believe that the time has come for a united and effective struggle against the BJP's attacks on democracy and the constitution. As chairperson of AITC, I shall work wholeheartedly with you and other like-minded political parties in this battle. We can win this battle only with unity of hearts and minds, and by presenting a credible alternative to the people of India," the letter says.

The chief minister has suggested deliberating a plan of action after the West Bengal polls.

(With PTI inputs)

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