Days after senior West Bengal minister Partha Chatterjee was arrested by the Enforcement Directorate in connection with the school recruitment scam, Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee on Wednesday slammed the media for allegedly launching a "malicious campaign" against her party.
Banerjee, also the Trinamool Congress supremo, said that anyone proven guilty by the court must be punished, but probe "agencies must not be used to malign political parties".
”When you run a big institution, there can be mistakes. Netaji Subhas Chandra Bose once said that people have the right to make blunders. If anyone has committed any mistake, and it is proven legally, he or she must be punished.
”But I am against any malicious media campaign. The media is playing the role of kangaroo (court). A senior judge also said that recently," she said.
Addressing a programme of private firm Titagarh Wagons at Uttarpara in Hooghly district, Banerjee lashed out at a section of the media for allegedly trying to act like courts and pronounce judgments even before a person is legally proven guilty.
”The Chief Justice of India recently pointed out that the media is playing the role of kangaroo courts. They don't want any development to happen in Bengal and only want to defame our state," she said.
Banerjee was referring to recent comments by Chief Justice of India NV Ramana that agenda-driven debates and kangaroo courts being run by the media are detrimental to the health of democracy.
Without elaborating, the TMC supremo claimed that she knows those journalists who have taken ”undue benefits”.
About ED raids carried out on July 22 at the houses of around a dozen people, including Chatterjee and another minister, in connection with its investigation into the school jobs scam, Banerjee wondered what prompted the central agency to do it just a day after the TMC's mega rally in Kolkata.
She said, ”They (BJP) were afraid after seeing the turnout (in the rally). They (ED) came in the dead of night and the wee hours. Did they find everything in one day?”
Banerjee said she does not have any problem with investigative agencies doing their job.
”But I will not tolerate ruining the perception of any political party in the name of an investigation, especially by those who have looted the country. This is not a good sign for our country," she said.
The TMC leader said she is against central agencies being used by the BJP to malign opposition parties.
Banerjee claimed that the BJP will not return to power in the 2024 Lok Sabha election.
"If I were not confident, I would not have said this. But what is the calculation, where will the seats come from, and how will they come? I don't know. (However), even astrologers are predicting the BJP's downfall," she said.
Banerjee said the level of "intolerance and cruelty" against the opposition has surpassed that of the British era.
In an apparent reference to the suspension of 19 opposition members from Rajya Sabha on Tuesday, she said, "These days, if you protest against something, you get suspended. If people raise their voices, they are either suspended or slapped with court cases."
She also claimed that businessmen and opposition leaders were also being "threatened by agencies at the behest of the ruling BJP" at the Centre.
The chief minister also cautioned the saffron camp that if it tries to dislodge the West Bengal government ”as it did in Maharashtra”, the party would get a befitting reply.
After dislodging the government in Maharashtra, the BJP has been trying to carry out similar operations in Jharkhand and other states, including West Bengal.
"Let me remind them that this is the land of the Royal Bengal Tiger; if they try to interfere, a befitting reply will follow. I warn them not to think about Bengal," the TMC boss added.