Kolkata: Accusing the Narendra Modi government of pushing “saffronisation" agenda and destroying federal structure, West Bengal chief minister Mamata Banerjee on Thursday said she will not tolerate attempts to spread communal hatred in the name cow protection as she targeted the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) over the attack on Dalits by cow vigilantes in Gujarat.

Addressing a massive rally in Kolkata, the Trinamool Congress supremo launched a fierce attack on the ruling BJP at the Centre over alleged interference in matters of the states and called for strengthening regional parties to take on BJP, saying she will help her “friends", though at the same time Banerjee made it clear that she did not wish to be the prime minister.

“They (Modi government) are destroying the federal structure in the country and interfering into the matter of states," Banerjee said in her speech on the occasion of ‘Martyrs’ Day’, observed by her party every year to commemorate the killing of 13 youth Congress workers in police firing in 1993.

Calling for strengthening of regional parties, the TMC chief said that she would help her friends, but she would not want to become prime minister. “Many are saying that I want to become the prime minister. But I don’t want anything more. I want to stay in my hut and work in the state."

Her statement indicated that TMC was eying national presence in the 2019 Lok Sabha poll as party vice-president Mukul Roy stated that TMC would reach a stage when it would be a deciding factor in government formation at the Centre.

Banerjee also charged the Centre with trying to push the agenda of “saffronisation" in the country and referred to the incident in Gujarat where Dalits were attacked by vigilantes for skinning a dead cow. “Someone may be a supporter of a particular party. But in every sphere of life, from education to other sectors, attempts are made to enforce the agenda of saffronisation in the country," she said.

“I condemn the way Dalits are attacked in Gujarat. In the name of Gau Rakhsa and cow protection they are spreading communal hatred and riot. We will not allow this communal hatred in the name of cow protection," she said.

In an obvious reference to the BJP and the Rashtriya Swayamsevak Sangh (RSS) she said, “I have come across reports that activists from certain political party and their sister organization are going to every household and inquiring about the number of cows. Who are they to ask these questions?"

“Whether I will have beef or mutton, who are you to dictate me? If I eat mutton or chicken there is no harm, but if I eat beef then it is a problem. Who are you to decide this? it is a matter of personal choice. We will not tolerate if they try to conduct survey on number of cows in the state and foment trouble," she said.

Amid slogan of “Bhag Modi Bhag", Banerjee targeted the BJP, saying, “Delhi conspires against us, but we will not bow down. TMC cannot be finished that way. The more they target us, the more we will reach the people".

Banerjee accused the central government of not focusing on work but being more busy with advertising itself. “Everyday they are only advertising. They have stopped sending funds for police modernisation and Sarva Siksha Abhiyan. They have stopped 39 (centrally-sponsored) schemes," she alleged.

Banerjee also mocked the Swach Bharat Abhiyan—the pet project of Prime Minister Narendra Modi—and said three districts of Bengal have topped the “Nirmal Bangla" scheme. “They are only trying to fool the masses. If someone is trying to oppose them politically, they will unleash CBI, ED and other agencies after them. Because of these agencies, 80,000 industrialists have left the country," Banerjee claimed.

Affirming that national interest was uppermost in her mind, Banerjee exhorted the people to remain alert against terrorism. “We are against any form of terror," she said and cautioned her party workers against unknown people taking accommodation on rent in their locality. “Be careful of people coming to your locality and taking rent or buying house. They may not look suspicious but you should be careful," she said.

Banerjee attacked the centre for not helping her state overcome its problem of indebtedness, saying that the cash drain on account of loan repayment was hobbling development activities.

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