12 April 2017
Parliament strongly condemned on Wednesday a statement by a BJP youth wing leader who announced a Rs 11-lakh bounty to anyone who beheads West Bengal Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee, with the Centre saying the state government is “free to take legal action” against him.
Yogesh Varshney, a leader of the Bharatiya Janata Yuva Morcha, triggered a controversy after saying Banerjee does not allow processions and fairs during Ram Navami and Hanuman Jayanti though she organises Iftar party and always supports Muslims.
The issue was raised in both the Houses by Trinamool Congress members even as all major political parties and the government condemned the statement.
In the Rajya Sabha, Deputy Chairman PJ Kurien said the state government can register an FIR and take action.
Raising this issue during Zero Hour in the Upper House, Trinamool member Sukhendu Sekhar Roy said the BJP youth activist publicly described West Bengal CM as a “demon” and announced the bounty.
Roy asked the House and the government to condemn the incident, saying “a constitutionally elected CM has been described as demon”.
He said the Centre was trying to “unleash a reign of terror” in West Bengal in the name of religion and other things.
Minister of state for parliamentary affairs Mukhtar Abbas Naqvi said: “I strongly condemn such type of statements (read Varshney’s remarks). State government is free to take appropriate legal action on this issue”.
“On such people action can be taken under the law. An FIR should be registered. Law should take its own course,” the deputy chairman said, adding “you raised this issue. Minister has condemned it…No need of discussion on that”.
BSP supremo Mayawati termed it a “serious matter” and said “BJP should not just condemn the statement but should also take action.”
Other opposition parties, including the Congress, Left and the Samajwadi Party, also supported the TMC on the issue and condemned the incident.
Jaya Bachchan of the SP said there was a need to take “aggressive” steps for the protection of women. “You can protect cows and women are facing atrocities,” she added.
“How dare somebody talk like this”, especially against a woman CM particularly when women are feeling insecure. “Is this the way you are going to protect women,” Bachchan asked.
BJP member Roopa Ganguly said she too was a woman and “I was beaten up by 17 goons of TMC in front of policemen. The chief minister who is also a women should answer this”.
In the Lok Sabha too, the BJP youth leader’s bounty offer was condemned by all sides, with parliamentary affairs minister Ananth Kumar saying such a statement by anyone was completely wrong and the government strongly condemns it.
“She is an elected chief minister and due respect must be given to her. We strongly condemn it,” Kumar said.
Speaker Sumitra Mahajan said there have been many unpleasant incidents in the political discourse in recent past and everyone must work together to improve it. “This is complete wrong. All sides must exercise restraint,” she said.
Raising the issue soon after the House assembled to take up the day’s business, TMC member Saugata Roy said: “Mamata Banerjee is not only an elected chief minister but a former member of this House too. It is a serious and alarming behaviour and the House must condemn it. She is a grassroots leader and government must take action on it.”
Congress leader Mallikarjun Kharge said his party fully associated with the sentiment and such an incident must not happen anywhere.
“A strong message should go from the government against such behaviour and action must be taken against the guilty,” Kharge said.
West Bengal – where Banerjee returned to power with a thumping majority last year – has seen mounting clashes between state forces and right-wing elements, who say the Trinamool Congress is biased towards Muslims and is anti-Hindu.
BJP’s Kailash Vijayvargiya said he did not agree with Varshney’s remarks although there was anger against Mamata Banerjee for her politics of appeasement.