West Bengal Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee on Wednesday called on Prime Minister Narendra Modi in New Delhi and raised the issue of the jurisdiction of BSF. After the meeting, Banerjee said she urged the PM to preserve the federal structure.
“The BSF is not our enemy. (There will be) confrontation with the state, and law and order when BSF is given more power. I respect all central agencies… (but it) should not disturb the federal structure of the state…” she said, adding that the PM “listened to me patiently”.
The Centre had recently decided to extend the operational jurisdiction of the Border Security Forces (BSF) in the three states of Assam, West Bengal and Punjab, which share international borders.
While Punjab and West Bengal, headed by non-BJP opposition parties, have protested against the Centre’s decision, accusing it to be an act of centralisation of power, the Centre defended the order by asserting that strengthening the BSF’s capacity to protect India’s international borders from illegal encroachments and cross-border crimes is necessary.
The West Bengal assembly had on November 16 passed a resolution against the Centre’s decision to extend the BSF jurisdiction. Earlier, the Punjab assembly had passed a similar resolution.
During the meeting, the Bengal CM also raised the issue of Tripura, which was marred by violence yesterday, at a time when the state is due for civic polls.
Banerjee, meanwhile, said she has invited the PM to inaugurate the Bengal Global Business Summit, which is slated to be held in Kolkata on April 20-21 next year. She said the PM has accepted the invitation.
Asked if she is also meeting Congress president Sonia Gandhi, the Bengal CM said: “I only requested time for meeting with the PM, not anybody else.” Banerjee had last met Gandhi in July this year amid buzz of forming a united Opposition to take on the BJP juggernaut in the 2024 general elections.
Banerjee’s trip to the national capital, second following her thumping victory in the Bengal polls earlier this year, comes at a time when she is at a political high, with several former BJP and Congress leaders, joining her Trinamool Congress such as Mukul Roy, Babul Supriyo and Susmita Dev, among others. It is also her first visit to Delhi after winning a landslide victory from her home turf Bhabanipur in the bypolls held on September 30. She defeated BJP’s Priyanka Tibrewal, her closest rival, to cement her chief ministerial position.
With inputs from News18