West Bengal chief minister Mamata Banerjee is likely to skip a key meeting of state home ministers on internal security, which will be presided over by Union home minister Amit Shah in Haryana.
Mamata, who also holds the home department, was invited by the Union home ministry for the two-day meeting in Haryana’s Surajkund on October 27 and October 28 along with the chief minister of another non-Congress-ruled state, Rajasthan.
There is no confirmation regarding the attendance of Banerjee, who is the chairperson of Trinamool Congress (TMC).
However, Bengal’s home secretary BP Gopalika and director general of police (DGP) Manoj Malaviya are expected to attend the ‘Chinta Shivir’ which will see discussions to strengthen internal and public security.
Being a border state, Bengal has been struggling for decades to check the illegal movement of people and smuggling along the porous Bangladesh border.
The development comes days after the TMC criticised the BJP-led Central government for curtailing the second term of Sourav Ganguly as the president of the powerful cricketing body Board of Control for Cricket in India (BCCI). Ganguly, popularly known as ‘Dada’, still holds sway in public opinion in Bengal.
During a recent public meeting, Mamata requested Prime Minister Narendra Modi to allow Ganguly to contest the election for the chief of the International Cricket Council (ICC).
The tensions in the BJP-TMC relationship have escalated further in the last few months, so much so that it now seems to be engulfing even the routine administrative cooperation between Bengal and the Central government.
After BJP’s drubbing in the last Assembly elections in Bengal, several powerful leaders of the TMC have been questioned in different cases of corruption by Central investigative agencies. Mamata’s party has called the investigation by the CBI, ED, and the Income Tax departments as “harassment”.
In September, TMC general secretary Abhishek Banerjee was questioned by the Enforcement Directorate (ED) for seven hours. In response, TMC launched a campaign under which its leader wore T-shirts with a cartoon that resembled Union minister Shah with a line: ‘India’s biggest Pappu’.
Last year when Abhishek, the nephew of CM Mamata, was attacked in Tripura, the TMC supremo had alleged Shah’s active support to attackers, which the TMC said were BJP members.
Apart from Abhishek, several other senior leaders like Partha Chatterjee and Anubrata Mandal and their associates have been questioned by Central agencies in the recent past.