Dharna is apolitical: Mamata Banerjee

All parties can join: TMC chief

West Bengal Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee speaks to her party workers during a sit-in over the CBI's attempt to question the Kolkata Police commissioner in connection with chit fund scams, in Kolkata, Monday, Feb. 04, 2019. (PTI Photo)

The stand-off between the CBI and Kolkata Police turned into an all-out political and legal battle between the Centre and West Bengal Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee on Monday.

Even as she said that the dharna was apolitical, Opposition parties from across the country came out in support of her.

Indicating that she is not averse to the prospect of her dharna turning into a unified protest by the Opposition parties, the chief minister said all political parties supporting the cause are welcome to join the protest.

"There is no political issue here... this is not a political programme. But all political parties can join us," Mamata said.

The chief minister was addressing the gathering at Metro Channel in Central Kolkata, where she has been on the dharna since 8.30 pm on Sunday against the CBI's attempt to question Kolkata Police Commissioner Rajeev Kumar in relation to a chit fund scam.

However, she announced that the dharna will continue till February 8 because of the Class 10 examinations of the state board.

Describing her agitation as a "collective struggle", Banerjee said that it was not a "small matter" and she has received support from across the political spectrum.

She said that Andhra Pradesh Chief Minister N Chandrababu Naidu, Samajwadi Party chief Akhilesh Yadav, BSP supremo Mayawati, Madhya Pradesh Chief Minister Kamal Nath, DMK chief M K Stalin and Delhi Chief Minister Arvind Kejriwal have extended their support.

SP leader Kiranmoy Nanda arrived at the venue of the dharna and met the chief minister.

"There can be ideological differences. But now whoever is opposing BJP is either being targeted by central agencies or labelled anti-national. Sometimes they are put behind bars," said Banerjee.

Defending the Kolkata police commissioner, Banerjee said he is being labelled a "thief" without any evidence.

"They said that Rajeev Kumar is a thief. Whose money has he taken? They said that I am a thief. Whose money did I take? If honest people get labelled thieves without any evidence, then I will definitely stand by them," said Banerjee.

The chief minister also said chit funds had started functioning in West Bengal in 1980 and asked why the CBI investigation into operations of chit funds is being conducted only since 2011 when the Trinamool Congress came to power.

Meanwhile, TMC workers held protest demonstrations across the state against the CBI and staged rail blockades at some places.

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Dharna is apolitical: Mamata Banerjee

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