West Bengal Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee yesterday refused to give credit to the Narendra Modi government for the arrest of fugitive diamantaire Nirav Modi, saying it was a “got-up match” and the arrest may have been fixed by the Centre beforehand.
Nirav Modi (48), the main accused in the USD 2 billion Punjab National Bank scam case, was arrested in London and was yesterday remanded to custody there till March 29. He has been absconding from the country for over a year.
“I think the Nirav Modi arrest is a got-up match. It is one of the ‘strikes’ by the Modi government to reap electoral dividends. I have been told by some people that two to three more such ‘strikes’ are in the offing and will take place in between the seven phases of Lok Sabha polls,” Banerjee said.
Stating that the Modi government should not claim any credit for the arrest of the fugitive, the Trinamool Congress supremo said, “One journalist of a UK media found out where he stayed. What were the government agencies doing all these times?
“Those hiding behind the curtains please come out, your game is up,” she added.
Stating that the Modi government was past its “expiry date”, the chief minister said, “They are branding those asking uncomfortable questions as ‘traitors’. We are not traitors, we are protectors, we love the country. But you (Narendra Modi) are selling off the country by shielding the corrupt.”
In a dig at Modi for addressing ‘chowkidars’ (watchmen)over the radio and calling himself one, Banerjee said, “From ‘chaiwala’ (tea seller), he has now turned into a chowkidar. But the true chowkidar does not flaunt such fashionable dresses.”
She also criticised the Modi government for announcing projects just before the announcement of the parliamentary elections.
“When the unemployment figures in the country have reached its highest level in 45 years, when two crore people have lost jobs in recent times, he is promising the moon to the people of the country. The people are not fools,” she said.
The TMC leader said the condition of blue chip public sectors like Air India and BSNL have deteriorated, while the farmers are in distress and dying.
“Demonetisation ripples are still being felt, but Narendra Modi is making tall claims at meetings after meetings,” she said.
Demonetisation was announced in November 2016.
Accusing Modi of playing the religion card ahead of the polls, Banerjee said, “We see him attending meetings with a ’tilak’ on his forehead,” referring to his recent address in Varanasi.
She had on Tuesday lashed out at the BJP for questioning her religion and challenged the prime minister and BJP president Amit Shah to compete with her in chanting ‘mantras’ (hymns).