CPI-M Politburo member and party's state secretary in West Bengal Mohammed Salim, on Wednesday, criticised the decision to keep the chair of Trinamool Congress' national general secretary Abhishek Banerjee vacant at the first meeting of the coordination committee of the opposition INDIA alliance.
Drawing a reference to the great Indian epic of Ramayana, Salim said that instead of keeping the chair vacant, Banerjee's shoes could have been kept there.
"There is an instance in our epic that the footwear of the king was placed on the throne while he went to the forest. That example could have been followed here as well," Salim told mediapersons on Wednesday evening.
Although the CPI-M veteran did not name anyone, his clear target was Shiv Sena leader Sanjay Raut who had announced the chair was vacant at the meeting as a mark of solidarity towards his inability to be present at the meeting as he was summoned by ED on the same day.
"His chair will be kept vacant as a mark of protest towards the harassment of opposition leaders through central agencies," Raut said.
While Banerjee was the Trinamool Congress representative in the coordination committee of INDIA alliance, CPI-M is yet to name a representative there.
Salim's comments came at a time when the party's national leadership of the party has come under scathing criticisms from rank and file of the party in West Bengal over CPI-M general secretary Sitaram Yechury sharing the same dais West Bengal Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee.
ED grilling meant to prevent me from attending INDIA bloc meeting: Abhishek Banerjee
Trinamool Congress’ national General Secretary Abhishek Banerjee has claimed that he was selectively chosen for interrogation by the Enforcement Directorate (ED) on Wednesday to ensure that he couldn't attend the first meeting of the coordination committee of the opposition INDIA bloc on the same day.
After stepping out of the ED office a little before 9 p.m. following a marathon grilling that lasted for nearly 10 hours, the Trinamool MP said that the members of the other constituents of the INDIA block had advised him to ignore the ED summon, and attend the coordination committee meeting in the national capital.
“But I chose to come to the ED office. I also requested the members of the INDIA not to postpone the meeting,” said, who reached the ED office at 11.32 a.m. on Wednesday.
He claimed that ED summoning him on the day of the INDIA bloc meeting shows the importance of Trinamool in the opposition alliance.
Banerjee also questioned the credibility of central agencies like the ED and the Central Bureau of Investigation (CBI) on the grounds of their low conviction rate.
“Such low conviction rate shows that most of the investigations carried out by the central agencies are politically motivated,” he said.
“It is extremely unfortunate that the ED and the CBI are pursuing cases on a pick and choose basis. We are not seeing any such action in the BJP ruled states. At the same time, any leader from the opposition parties being hounded by central agencies gets a clean chit as soon as they join the BJP,” Banerjee added.
Although he refused to divulge the details of the interrogation, he said it seemed that the questions posed to him were loaded with some preconceived notions.
Banerjee also thanked the leaders of the other constituents of the INDIA bloc for expressing solidarity towards him on the day of the first meeting of the coordination committee.
The Trinamool leader also accused the BJP of deliberately using the agency route to create a counter-narrative against the growing grievances among the people on the burning issues like inflation, unemployment and communal hatred.