• Mamta to discuss BSF ambit with PM
    Telegraph | 23 November 2021
  • Mamata Banerjee on Monday said she would meet Prime Minister Narendra Modi in New Delhi primarily to discuss the Centre’s decision to expand the jurisdiction of the Border Security Force (BSF) in Bengal, asserting that it was a crucial issue she wanted answers on.

    The Bengal chief minister issued a statement at the Calcutta airport in the afternoon, on her way to the national capital, reiterating her stand against allowing the “grabbing of areas” by alleged use of force.

    “I am going to Delhi now, for a few days. You are all aware that this had been finalised as a programme for some time. I have an appointment with the Prime Minister…. There are some matters, development-related and others… pertaining to our state that I intend to take up with him. Especially, the issue of the BSF, that is something I am going to talk to him about,” said Mamata at the airport.

    “We will not allow grabbing of areas by the use of force,” she added.

    On Tuesday, Bengal became the second state after Punjab to have a resolution passed — by 112:63 votes — in its Assembly against the Union home ministry’s decision to expand the jurisdiction of the BSF from 15km to 50km from the international border.

    The resolution, moved by the ruling Trinamul Congress, was bitterly opposed by the 63 MLAs of the BJP who showed up in the 294-seat House. The BJP went on to demand that the jurisdiction of the BSF be enhanced to an even greater extent, till 80km from the international borders, in Bengal.

    “The BSF is not my enemy, they are also my friend. But the way the BJP thinks the BSF means the BJP, and the BSF means BJP safe, it is not correct,” said the Trinamul chief on Monday.

    The state government believes if the decision of the Union home ministry ê under Amit Shah — is implemented, 11 of the state’s 23 districts  will go almost entirely under the jurisdiction of the BSF.

    This would include a lion’s share of north Bengal and 37 per cent of the entire territory of the state.

    “Every organisation is unique. Law and order is a state subject. State police is a cadre. Other agencies, such as the CISF (Central Industrial Security Force), the CRPF (Central Reserve Police Force), the BSF… they too are separate cadres. Every agency has its own dignity. But in total disregard of that, they (the BJP) are using force to make the (central) agencies work for their party,” alleged Mamata.

    Trinamul secretary-general Partha Chatterjee has said Bengal shares 2,164.71km of international borders with Nepal, Bhutan and Bangladesh, so if the expansion of

    the BSF jurisdiction takes place, 32,400 sqkm out of the state’s total area of 88,752 sqkm will go under the central agency.

    “The central decision is an attempt to impose central rule on vast swathes of the state, through the backdoor. That is totally unacceptable,” said Chatterjee, the state’s parliamentary affairs minister.

    Faleiro elected to RS

    Former Goa chief minister Luizinho Faleiro — who had joined Trinamul after four decades in the Congress in September — was elected unopposed to the Rajya Sabha from Bengal on Monday, in the absence of any other candidate for the November 29 bypoll.

    The bypoll had been announced following the resignation of Trinamul’s Arpita Ghosh as a member of the Upper House.

    Faleiro, a national vice-president of Mamata’s party, is the first person from Goa to become a Trinamul MP and can occupy the seat till April 2026. Mamata had already made it clear that her party would contest the election to the 40-seat Assembly of the western state in February next year, in a bid to unseat the BJP’s Pramod Sawant government there.

    Trinamul has 13 of the 16 Rajya Sabha seats from Bengal, while the Congress has two and the CPM has one.
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