TMC’s Protest for Central Dues Ends With FIR Against 12 BJP MLAs for Insulting National Anthem – News18

West Bengal ministers and TMC MLAs during the concluding day of their dharna against the central government over the alleged denial of MGNREGA funds, in Kolkata on November 30, 2023. (PTI)

TMC MLAs complained to the Speaker that the BJP legislators raised slogans when the ruling party MLAs were singing the national anthem. The saffron party has vowed to get the FIR quashed in court

Barely 48 hours after the BJP launched its campaign in West Bengal for 2024 Lok Sabha elections with Amit Shah’s rally, 12 of the saffron party’s MLAs were booked for allegedly “insulting” the national anthem on the state Assembly premises.

The FIR was lodged at the Hare Street Police Station based on a complaint by the Secretary of the West Bengal Legislative Assembly, who in turn cited letters written to the Speaker by TMC MLAs by Sovandeb Chattopadhyay, Chandrima Bhattacharya and Tapas Ray. The BJP has called the FIR illegal, saying it will approach the courts on Monday to quash it.

The sequence of events started on Wednesday afternoon when Trinamool Congress MLAs, led by party supremo and Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee, were protesting near the statue of BR Ambedkar within the Assembly premises over the non-payment of central dues to the state government under various centrally sponsored schemes.

Towards the close of the protest, LoP Suvendhu Adhikary passed by the TMC protest and shouted “chor, chor”. On Thursday, he reportedly led BJP MLAs to stage a counter protest at the spot with similar slogans, the first time such scenes unfolded in West Bengal Assembly premises.

TMC MLAs complained to Speaker Biman Bandopadhyay that the BJP legislators raised the slogans when the ruling party MLAs were singing the national anthem.

The FIR was subsequently lodged against BJP MLAs Sankar Ghosh, Manoj Tigga, Sudip Kumar Mukherjee, Malati Reva Roy, Chandrani Barui, Niladri Sekhar Dana, Mihir Goswami, Manoj Kumar Oraon, Suman Kanjilal, Dipak Barman, and Hiranmoy Chattopadhyay.

Suvendu Adhikari was mentioned in the attached letter, but was not included in the formal FIR. “During the incident, the BJP MLAs blocked the gate of the South Portico and incited and provoked breach of peace at the said location. The investigation of the case is currently underway,” the case summary says.

TMC insiders say the party will go big on the issue in the run-up to Lok Sabha elections next year. Speaking to News18, TMC’s Bobby Hakim said: “They are anti-national and they don’t love the motherland. That’s why, even when we were singing the national anthem, they were shouting. The FIR is there. We don’t know what the courts will do, but BJP is anti-national and anti-people.”

Hitting back at the TMC, LoP Suvendhu Adhikary told News18: “We are ignoring this FIR. They have illegally done this FIR. Police and ministers have misused their power. We will go to court on Monday to quash it.”

“Mamata Banerjee will not teach us nationalism. She has disregarded the national anthem. How dare they questions us,” BJP MLA Agnimitra Paul said.

Sources say the case might be handed to the Kolkata Police Detective Department and the BJP MLAs might be questioned.