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Do not disturb federal structure, Mamata tells Modi

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The Centre must not disturb the federal structure, West Bengal Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee reportedly told Prime Minister Narendra Modi on Wednesday at a meeting in Delhi, flagging the expansion of the BSF’s jurisdiction in the border States. Ms. Banerjee has demanded that the amendment to the BSF Act be withdrawn immediately.

The Ministry of Home Affairs (MHA), through a notification published on October 11, amended the BSF Act of 1968 expanding the BSF jurisdiction from 15 km to 50 km in border States. Though the BSF does not have policing powers, it can apprehend a suspect and conduct “preliminary questioning”. The seized consignment or a suspect has to be handed over to the local police within 24 hours

West Bengal has 2,216 km border with Bangladesh and TMC contends that the extension of jurisdiction will effectively bring nearly one-third of the State’s territory under the BSF’s control. Out of 23 districts in the State, nearly 10 districts will be affected. This would have an impact on 21 of the 42 Lok Sabha constituencies which could have larger political implications.

Ms. Banerjee, sources said, told the PM that if the law and order is solely a State subject and if this equilibrium is changed then it will lead to an obvious confrontation.

Also read | Explained | Enhanced powers of Border Security Force

“We may have our political differences with each other. That cannot change, their ideology is different and ours is different. But this should not come in the way of the Centre-State relationship. The Centre can be strengthened only if the State is strengthened,” she said.

Speaking to the media after her meeting, Ms. Banerjee also said that she had invited the PM to inaugurate the Global Business Summit which will be held in West Bengal next year. She also urged Mr. Modi to clear ₹96,000 crore dues that the Centre owes the State.

The TMC is trying to expand its footprint across the country and making a serious effort to dislodge the Congress from the position of the lead opposition party. When asked if she will be meeting any other opposition leaders, Ms. Banerjee said her Delhi visit was specifically to meet the Prime Minister.

She snapped at the reporters, when asked why she was not meeting Congress President Sonia Gandhi, whose home at 10 Janpath is a regular stop for her during every visit. “Why should I meet Sonia every time? It is not constitutionally mandated.”

She said she had raised the issue of the violence in Tripura where allegedly TMC workers were assaulted by BJP workers.

On the upcoming Uttar Pradesh polls, the TMC chief said: “If Trinamool can help defeat the BJP in UP, we will go… If Akhilesh (Samajwadi chief Akhilesh Yadav) wants our help we will give.” But she added that the TMC has already started work in Goa and Haryana. “I think some places let regional parties fight. If they want us to campaign, we will help.”

While Ms. Banerjee did not meet the Congress chief, she is headed to Mumbai on November 30. During the three-day tour, she said she will be meeting Maharashtra Chief Minister Uddhav Thackeray and NCP Chief Sharad Pawar. She also said that she will be meeting actor Shahrukh Khan during her visit.



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