West Bengal: TMC launches By-poll campaign, Mamata addresses first meeting

As the bypoll elections for the Bhabanipur Assembly constituency for which Trinamool Supremo Mamata Banerjee will be contesting, the party has launched campaigns on Thursday in which Banerjee accused the Centre of using central agencies to target the ruling party.

Breaking her silence on her nephew and the party’s all-India general secretary Abhishek Banerjee receiving fresh summons from the Enforcement Directorate (ED) less than 48 hours after being questioned by the sleuths in Delhi in connection with an alleged coal smuggling case, the West Bengal chief minister said, “In less than two days after being interrogated for nine hours, Abhishek has been asked to appear before the ED again. The Centre is using investigating agencies such as the ED and the CBI to finish off the Trinamool Congress in West Bengal.”

Addressing a workers’ meet at Ahindra Mancha in the Chetla area of south Kolkata on Wednesday, the first such event since being named the party’s nominee for the Bhabanipur by-election, the Trinamool chief said, “They (the BJP) have tried to weaken the Congress and silence leaders such as Sharad Pawar and Mulayam Singh Yadav by using the central agencies against them. But they will not find any success here. If there is a case against Abhishek, let them prove it. Can you be branded a thief unless you’re proven as one? Why was the case transferred from Kolkata to Delhi? Subrata Mukherjee (state panchayat minister) has been named in the Narada (sting tapes) case. I have talked to many lawyers about the case. There is nothing in it.”

One fellow party member Sobhandeb Chattopadhyay, who vacated the Bhabanipur seat for the CM, Mamata said, “He resigned (as Bhabanipur MLA) for me. He will continue as minister.” Chattopadhyay will contest the Khardaha Assembly seat, which fell vacant after the death of Trinamool MLA Kajal Sinha.

Mamata, who lost to BJP’s Suvendu Adhikari in the high-stakes battle for Nandigram in the Assembly polls earlier this year and has to win her home constituency in the September 30 bypoll if she has to remain CM, said, “I will file my nomination on Friday, September 10.”

The Trinamool supremo chose not to contest the seat she won twice since 2011, putting herself in fray, instead, in Nandigram against her one-time-aide-turned-baiter. In a fight that went down to the wire and kept both camps interested till the last round of counting, Adhikari pipped Mamata by a narrow margin.

Last week, the Election Commission announced September 30 as the date for holding the Bhabanipur bypoll as well as the elections to the Jangipur and Samserganj Assembly segments that were deferred due to the death of candidates during the second wave of Covid-19.

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