The Supreme Court's direction that no coercive step, including arrest of Kolkata Police chief Rajeev Kumar, will take place during the course of investigation is "our moral victory and will boost the morale of civil servants", West Bengal Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee said Tuesday. The apex court Tuesday directed Kumar to make himself available before the CBI and "faithfully" cooperate with the agency in investigation of cases arising out of the Saradha chit fund scam probe.
It also said no coercive steps, including the arrest of the Kolkata Police chief, will take place during the course of the investigation. Banerjee, who is on a "Save India" dharna in front of Metro Cinema in the heart of the city since Sunday night, said, "In every federal state, there is an elected government and there are clear-cut jurisdictions for the Centre and the states. But look at what the central agency is doing."
"They are coming to arrest without consulting the state government. It is vindictive as law and order is a state subject." It will violate constitutional obligations as the Constitution is a kind of protection to the federal set up, she said, adding five letters were sent by the CBI to the Kolkata Police commissioner, replies to which had been sent.
"Our case is very strong. We never said we will not cooperate. This is political vendetta," the West Bengal chief minister said. On whether it is proper for her to sit on a dharna being a chief minister, Banerjee said, "Arvind Kejriwal and Jayalalithaa had also staged dharnas."
The Supreme Court's order is a victory of the common man, democracy and the Constitution, she told reporters at the dharna venue in central Kolkata. "There must be some story behind this. Nobody can dare to speak against Prime Minister Narendra Modi. Our's is a mass agitation and we are going to fight it unitedly," Banerjee, who is also the Trinamool Congress supremo said.
"This protest is against the person who is destroying the country by creating unnecessary divisions among the people. He is creating fear in the minds of the people," she alleged. Banerjee said she was not fighting for the Kolkata Police commissioner, whom she described as a "simple man who had put in 34 years of service", but for millions of people of the country.
She sat on the 'Save India' dharna insisting that the latest CBI action was tantamount to stifling the spirit of "Constitution and federalism" in the country. "We always respect the law and feel that things should run as per the law. But, if someone tries to destroy the pillars on which democracy stands, then there would be nothing left of the democratic process that we are so proud of.
"It is in this background that I am conducting my protest here. This is not some small incident. Leaders from across the country, who believe in the federal structure, are supporting me in this struggle", Banerjee said. Several opposition leaders, including Samajwadi Party leader Akhilesh Yadav, TDP chief Chandrababu Naidu, DMK's Kanimozhi, RJD's Tejaswhi Yadav, have supported Banerjee's protest.
"This is not my individual fight, it is a collective fight. I hope democracy and the rule of law find a favourable atmosphere to go their courses," she said. On the refusal of permission for the landing of Yogi Adityanath's helicopter in three areas of West Bengal, she said permission for the same had been given to many others, including Union Home Minister Rajnath Singh, and the Uttar Pradesh chief minister should concentrate on his own state.
The BJP had on Monday said Adityanath's proposed rally in Bankura district scheduled for Tuesday was cancelled as the Trinamool Congress (TMC) government was "dilly-dallying" on giving permission for the landing of his helicopter. On Sunday too the West Bengal government had denied permission to the Uttar Pradesh chief minister's chopper to land in the state and let him address two scheduled rallies in north Bengal. He had to address the rallies in Raigunj and Balurghat over telephone.
"Questions are also being raised about my paintings. Let me tell you, I can paint, write and do many things to help my party. I am an artist," she said.