West Bengal Chief Minister and Trinamool Congress supremo Mamata Banerjee on Monday condemned the arrest of 21-year-old climate activist Disha Ravi and said the Narendra Modi-led BJP government at the Centre should first take action against its own IT cell which, she alleged, is spreading fake news.
Banerjee, who launched ‘Maa Canteen’ (where meals would be available at Rs 5) virtually, said she felt sorry over the arrest of the young activist from Bengaluru for allegedly sharing with Swedish activist Greta Thunberg a "toolkit" related to the farmers' protest against the Centre's agri laws. “Yes, I have seen it on social media. We have also seen how senior journalists were booked.”
Hitting out at BJP’s IT cell members who she alleged are calling up people posing as TMC members and maligning her party, she said, “It is unfortunate to see how eminent persons, journalists and other people are being harassed. They were booked by the Central government. But there is no action against the BJP IT cell members who are spreading lies and misinformation throughout the day.”
“I was shocked when I came to know that BJP IT cell people are calling up people and abusing them in the name of the TMC. I would like to alert people that the BJP IT cell is making calls and spreading misinformation about the TMC. Please do not pay heed to such calls. I came to know about the matter when similar calls were received by two professors of Jadavpur University (JU).”
“Unfortunately, the numbers registered as an ‘abusive word with TMC as a prefix’. I have taken a serious note in this matter. If they (central agencies) can be booked (hinting at Disha Ravi and journalists) and if they can take action against Twitter and Facebook, why can’t we take action against BJP IT cell people? I would like to tell the police to take up the matter immediately against those involved in this crime,” she added, while challenging the BJP to fight her politically. The state is slated to witness crucial Assembly elections in April-May and the BJP has set a target to overthrow the government led by Banerjee.
Regarding the new meal scheme she launched on Monday, Banerjee said, “The outlets are being opened across the state primarily for poor people, but anyone can go eat at ‘Maa Canteen’.”
She said should like to visit one such canteen soon. The ‘Mas Canteen’ scheme gets its name from TMC’s ‘Ma, Mati, Manush (Mother, soil, people)’ slogan. The meals would comprise rice, dal, a vegetable curry and an egg at Rs 5 per plate, she said adding that the state government will bear a subsidy of Rs 15 per plate.
Self-help groups will operate the kitchens from 1pm to 3pm every day and such kitchens will be set up everywhere in the state gradually, Banerjee said.