Trinamool (TMC) Congress leader Mamata Banerjee attacked the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) on Wednesday for allegedly using Israeli software Pegasus to spy on politicians, activists and journalists and issued an open appeal to the leader of the Nationalist Congress Party Sharad Pawar to assemble an opposition front to defeat the BJP in the 2024 national elections.
She also urged the Supreme Court to take cognizance of suo motu allegations that the central government may have used the Pegasus software to hack the phones of prominent political opponents and critics. She suggested that the Supreme Court should form a special investigative team in the case.
I really know my phone has been bugged. Only the judiciary can save democracy. Eliminate espionage and save the nation, Banerjee said in a one-hour virtual speech on TMC Martyrs Day, the big annual event held in memory of 13 young members of Congress killed in police gunfire in Kolkata on July 21, 1993.
Prime Minister Narendra Modi and Union Home Minister Amit Shah became the main targets of his speech.
Pegasus is bigger than Watergate, the Bengal chief minister said, referring to the Watergate scandal that rocked the US government and led to the resignation of President Richard Nixons in 1974.
Like last year, Banerjee spoke to people virtually due to the Covid pandemic but for the first time, giant screens were installed in public places and TMC offices not only in Bengal but also in States like Delhi, Uttar Pradesh, Tamil Nadu and Tripura. Banerjee spoke in Bengali, English and Hindi to reach his audience.
In Delhi, regional party leaders gathered at the Constitution Club of India to listen to the speech.
I will be in Delhi July 27-29. I urge Sharad Pawar Ji (the leader of the Nationalist Congress Party) to hold a meeting. Prime Minister, please do not disturb us, said Banerjee.
I don’t know what will happen in 2024 but we have to start our planning now. We will not be defeated. I am confident that we will win, she said, indicating that the TMC wants to form an alliance against the BJP in the upcoming Lok Sabha polls. After its parties win against the BJP in the Bengal Assembly elections, the Mamata Banerjees party seeks to expand its base and forge an opposition alliance to challenge the Saffron Party nationally.
There are only two and a half years left before the election. Let’s form an alliance and show the way to the nation. I am a worker. I will follow you and your instructions. Chairs don’t last forever, but people’s love lives on, Banerjee said.
If our front comes to power, we will give free rations to the whole country, Banerjee said, referring in detail to the rationing system and other welfare programs she has implemented in Bengal.
I can’t call Sharad Pawar Ji, P Chidambaram, Delhi Chief Minister or Odisha Chief Minister because my phone is bugged. See I put a bandage on my phone’s camera. Instead of a democratic state, you (BJP) want to have a watchdog state, Banerjee said. She held up her cell phone with a brown ribbon stuck to the back.
Before the legislative elections, I was in a meeting with our party leaders. My phone was there. They recorded everything, she said.
Modi Ji I am not criticizing you as a person, but you and Amit Shah Ji only proposed dark laws. You only want violence and inconvenience. India is the country of Swami Vivekananda, Nehru, APJ Abdul Kalam and Bhagat Singh. India needs development and integrity. But all we can see is desperation and instability, Banerjee said.
Mohabbat kaam se hota hai, maan ki baat bolne se nahi (you can spread love through your work, not by saying what you think), said Banerjee, referring to Prime Minister Maan’s monthly radio show. Ki Baat through which he addresses the nation.
We need to create unrest across the country against rising prices for diesel, gasoline and LPG, said Bengal’s chief minister.
BJP Bengal’s unit countered Banerjee by paying tribute to its workers killed in political violence.
Claiming that 124 BJP workers have been killed since the 2008 panchayat polls, Bengal BJP chairman Dilip Ghosh staged a peaceful unrest in Rajghat in New Delhi while party workers staged programs in Bengal districts and in Kolkata.
Mamata Banerjees’ government uses Pegasus to spy on the people and opposition leaders. She has a better idea of the technology, Ghosh said in Delhi.
Mamata Banerjee was a Youth Congress leader in 1993 and led a July 21 agitation against the state Left Front government. Over the years, the Martyrs Day Gathering has become a symbol of TMC struggle since its birth in 1998 and serves as a platform from which Banerjee sends messages and declares his future plans.
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