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24 Dec 2016

CM targets tax 'Gabbar'

TT, Dec. 23: Chief minister Mamata Banerjee has taken on the Narendra Modi government on multiple fronts over income-tax raids, asking the Centre not to deploy a paramilitary force for searches and retelling the legend of Gabbar Singh to underscore the "terror" sweeping the country.
"People are living in constant fear of income tax raids.... Kokhon Gabbar Singh eshey jabe (when Gabbar Singh will come)? Even people who have worked all their lives to save Rs 50,000 are living in fear of income tax raids. I haven't seen such terror or tension ever before, but then how will I see it? Because someone like this has never come before," Mamata said at the Christmas Meet at St. Xavier's College today evening.
By speaking about tax raids - usually a concern of the business community that the BJP considers as one of its constituencies - and simultaneously referring to savings of Rs 50,000, Mamata seemed to be trying to take the battle to the heart of the rival camp after building a shield against being labelled pro-rich.
Earlier in the day, Mamata wrote to the Union home ministry to revoke a decision to deploy CRPF jawans to protect income tax officials during search-and-seizure operations in Bengal.
"The state government objects strongly to this decision, which is blatantly unconstitutional, illegal and against all principals of cooperative federalism," the chief minister wrote, opening another flank in the demonetisation battle.
Late tonight, home minister Rajnath Singh told The Telegraph in New Delhi: "There is no question of deploying a paramilitary force without the consent of the state government. If at all we decide to depute a CRPF team in Bengal, we will take state government's consent first."
Rajnath pointed out that law and order was a state subject. "I have received a letter from Mamata Banerjee and will send a reply soon. We cannot deploy central forces without taking the state government into confidence," the Union minister added.
The Centre had earlier decided to depute a paramilitary team to accompany tax officials in Bengal after learning that police have been allegedly refusing to deploy adequate personnel.
In the letter, Mamata reminded Rajnath that central forces - except during Assembly and Lok Sabha elections - could be deployed in a state only if the state government made a request.
"No communication in this regard has been received by the state government," she wrote. "The deployment of any central police force of the Union to the state can only be done at the request of the state government. The decision must be immediately revoked," she added.
Sources said Mamata was "furious" after she learned from news reports that the Centre had sanctioned the deployment of central forces.
"The chief minister held discussions with senior officials before sending the letter. She made it clear that she would leave no stone unturned to expose the Centre whenever it makes a faux pas," said an official.
Trinamul leaders said the party chief was in no mood to take her foot off the pedal in her campaign against the Narendra Modi government over demonetisation and she had been on the lookout for opportunities to attack the Centre.
He said the Centre has served this opportunity on a platter to Mamata. "She will not let this pass, more so when she is looking to up the ante over the next few weeks and reclaim the leadership ground from the Congress in the anti-demonetisation space," he said.

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