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TMC leaders including Abhishek Banerjee, Derek O’Brien protesting inside Krishi Bhavan in Delhi detained by police


TMC general secretary Abhishek Banerjee and several other party leaders were detained on Tuesday night after they held a dharna at the Union Rural Development Ministry office here demanding a meeting with the minister.

The development came as the tug-of-war between the Centre and the West Bengal government over the release of funds to the state intensified with the Trinamool Congress (TMC) holding protests in the national capital for the second consecutive day.

Earlier, Trinamool Congress leader Abhishek Banerjee on Tuesday lashed out at the Centre, accusing it of trying to intimidate protesters who had gathered in the national capital to press for the release of funds to West Bengal.

Banerjee, along with TMC lawmakers, state ministers and supporters including MGNREGA workers, protested at Jantar Mantar here, a day after they held a two-hour dharna at the Rajghat on Mahatma Gandhi’s birth anniversary before being evicted by the police.

“Yesterday they sent around 5,000 to 10,000 police personnel, RAF and other forces to stop 50 leaders of the TMC. Today as well the number of security personnel here makes it appear as if India-China war is going on here,” said Banerjee, flanked by party leaders holding placards on the stage.

He also mentioned Manipur and said while violence continues in the northeastern state, the Centre is focused on stopping protesters.

The TMC leader accused the central government of trying to threaten the protesters and said despite all its efforts, the Centre could not stop the TMC.

The ruling Trinamool Congress in West Bengal has accused the BJP-led NDA government of withholding 15,000 crore in dues to the state under the Mahatma Gandhi National Rural Employment Guarantee Act (MGNREGA) and PM Awas Yojana.

The BJP has rejected the charge and accused the TMC of doing a “drama” in Delhi to divert attention from the scams in West Bengal.

Lok Sabha MP from Krishnanagar Mahua Moitra alleged the Centre is collecting taxes from West Bengal, but not giving the state’s dues.

“We have not come here to beg but for our rights… Mamata Banerjee is fighting not only for Bengal, but for the people of the entire country,” the firebrand leader said.

“All those people who are close to BJP and Modiji don’t work as labourers. It is the poor people who have worked and are not getting paid. Eleven lakh people who deserve to get homes under Awas Yojna are not getting money,” she alleged.

Demanding the release of funds by the Centre, West Bengal Minister of Rural Development Pradip Mazumdar said Rural Development Minister Giriraj Singh, in a meeting with him on November 7, 2022, had assured that the funds would be released.

“There is no difference between the poor people of Begusarai (Giriraj Singh’s constituency) and Bengal,” Mazumdar said.

“They have not released the rightful funds even after our repeated attempts. The people who withheld our funds even after promising to release them have made false promises in 2019,” he said.

TMC leaders are scheduled to meet Minister of State for Rural Development Sadhvi Niranjan Jyoti as Giriraj Singh is not in Delhi.

On Monday, at a press conference held in his constituency Begusarai, Giriraj Singh alleged that the Center’s money was “siphoned off” by the state government. The minister said over 25 lakh job cards have been deleted in the state and added that the Centre was contemplating ordering a CBI probe.

With Agency Inputs

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Updated: 03 Oct 2023, 09:59 PM IST

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