Powers being seized by a section, may lead to presidential form of govt: Mamata

Kolkata: West Bengal Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee on Sunday claimed that democratic powers are being seized by a “section of people” which she felt may lead to a presidential form of government in the country.

Urging the judiciary and leaders in different fields to “save democracy”, the chief minister said at a programme here that if this trend continues, then a day will come when a presidential form of government will be brought in the country.

Without naming the BJP, she implied that the ruling party was behind the move.

Speaking at the convocation ceremony of the West Bengal National University of Juridical Sciences (NUJS), she urged the judiciary to ensure that the federal structure of the country remains intact.

“All the democratic powers are being seized by a section of people; this might be going on for (bringing in) a presidential form of government ” Banerjee, who was the chief guest at the convocation, said.

Chief Justice of India, Justice U U Lalit, who is the chancellor of the university, was present on the occasion.

She also claimed that people were being harassed “unnecessarily”.

The West Bengal chief minister has tussled with the BJP-led NDA government at the Centre on several occasions over the powers of the state and the central government.

Claiming that at present people are “crying behind closed doors”, Banerjee, who is also the Trinamool Congress supremo, said she believes that the judiciary has to act as their saviour.

She came down on the fourth pillar accusing it of conducting media trials in different matters and accusations are being made against persons even before the judiciary can deliver its verdict.

“Our only prestige is our respect … it cannot come back if it is taken away,” she said.

Pointing out that when people lose hope in every other avenue, they go to courts to seek justice, Banerjee urged the new law graduates to uphold the tenets of law and justice.

Maintaining that law enforcing agencies have taken action against alleged corruption and irregularities in various issues, CPI(M) Rajya Sabha MP Bikash Bhattacharya said this cannot be termed as “taking away respect”.

“She cannot claim to be slighted for legal actions against corruption,” he said.

Bhattacharya, a senior advocate, is representing petitioners in several cases alleging irregularities in appointments of teaching and non-teaching staff in West Bengal government-sponsored and -aided schools, wherein the Calcutta High Court has ordered a CBI investigation.

The Enforcement Directorate (ED) is also probing some of these cases.

West Bengal Pradesh Congress Committee (WBPCC) president Adhir Ranjan Chowdhury claimed that an attempt is being made to “indirectly pressurise the judicial system”.

“Deprived people are knocking on the doors of the courts to get justice,” he told reporters.

TMC spokesperson Kunal Ghosh said that Banerjee has only expressed the views of the general people.

“That court is the final pedestal of confidence is what the chief minister tried to say,” he said.

Alleging that the chief minister does not know what democracy is, BJP state president Sukanta Majumdar said that saffron party workers are being heckled and beaten in different parts of the state.

“People of Bengal are seeing for the last 11-12 years how the democratic system has been hijacked in the state,” he said.

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