|Mamata in Murshidabad’s Domkal Pic: Chayan Majumdar|
TT, April 12: Mamata Banerjee today sought to play down a remark by a little-known BJP youth leader from Aligarh offering a Rs 11 lakh bounty on the Bengal chief minister's head.
"They can abuse me as they like. They can malign me, conspire against me all the time.... I pray to almighty to forgive them, for they know not what they are saying. I need not say anything more. Let's ignore them instead of giving them undue importance," she told a public meeting in Murshidabad's Domkal this afternoon.
Sources in Trinamul described as "smart" the chief minister's decision to steer clear of launching a counter-attack on the remark by the BJP youth leader.
The youth leader offered the bounty while referring to the police action on an RSS-backed rally to mark Hanuman Jayanti in Birbhum's Suri.
"One must maintain a basic level of dignity in politics, which is also about culture, decency and humanity," she said. "The more you threaten or call me names, the further we will get in life. Your criticism is a blessing for us.... Now we are in Bengal. We will be in Bihar, Odisha, Jharkhand and soon, in Delhi."
After almost a month of facing an aggressive onslaught from the BJP-RSS camp since the Uttar Pradesh poll victory, Trinamul leaders today grabbed the opportunity to embarrass the Sangh parivar.
While the senior BJP leadership, both at the national and state levels, were unequivocal in condemning the Uttar Pradesh leader's remark, almost every leader of Mamata's party demanded his arrest.
Calcutta police received multiple complaints against him. Senior officers in Lalbazar confirmed that at least two such complaints had been filed at Kalighat and Girish Park police stations.
The CID has taken up the investigation on a complaint from a Birbhum resident.
Trinamul leaders said the mellowed attitude was in sharp contrast to the chief minister's approach during her anti-demonetisation movement, when she had publicly accused Prime Minister Narendra Modi and BJP national president Amit Shah of trying to murder her after the flight she was travelling from Patna had a delayed landing.
A senior Trinamul leader dubbed the renewed approach "balanced" and attributed it to several factors.
"She is allowing the party to utilise the opportunity to shame the BJP. But personally, she is showing grace on the subject and gaining political mileage. She also cannot allow a damage to the prospect of improved Centre-state ties, which are crucial at this juncture," the leader said.
The Bengal Congress and the CPM alleged a renewed bonhomie between Modi and Mamata in the wake of the CBI probes into various deposit-mobilisation scams and the Narada sting.
Mamata also stayed away from launching an attack on the Congress, despite the venue of today's meeting being state party chief Adhir Chowdhury's backyard Murshidabad. The focus of her speech in Domkal - a minority-dominated belt - was on the issues of intolerance, bovine politics and communal polarisation.
Some Trinamul leaders saw in Mamata's speech today an attempt to work out "a wider Opposition unity".
In her recent Delhi trip, Mamata had had meetings with both Modi and Congress vice-president Rahul Gandhi.
"For a wider Opposition unity at the national level, which she is striving for ahead of the 2019 polls, she cannot leave the Congress out. She saw no sense in antagonising the Congress in a district where Trinamul is gaining anyway through large-scale defections," a minister said.
Six persons have been arrested for allegedly carrying weapons during a procession organised to mark Hanuman Jayanti in north Calcutta.
The police said around 250 supporters of the Mahavir Seva Samiti had organised the procession from near Hanuman Mandir off the Tala Bridge yesterday evening.
A few minutes later, some of them had allegedly started brandishing swords, choppers and knives, the police said.
The police have charged them with specific sections under the Arms Act.
In Birbhum's Suri, suspected Trinamul activists last night hurled bombs and ransacked the houses of three BJP workers who had attended a rally to mark Hanuman Jayanti.