Kolkata/New Delhi: The unprecedented stand-off between the Narendra Modi government and the Mamata Banerjee government in West Bengal stretched to the second day on Monday as the feisty Chief Minister continued her sit-in at the city hub, while central paramilitary force troopers kept vigil at the CBI offices.
Parallelly, Kolkata police sent notice to a top Central Bureau of Investigation (CBI)officer in an old case.
Our Satyagraha is not against any individual agency. Our protest is against the attempts to divide the country and spread hate, intimidation and terror among people.
The centre-state showdown that began on Sunday evening when CBI officials showed up near the Loudon Street residence of Kolkata Police Commissioner Rajeev Kumar for questioning him in connection with the probe into the ponzi scheme scam, also rocked Parliament and reached the legal corridors in both New Delhi and the eastern metropolis.
Banerjee, flanked by her senior ministers and top Trinamool Congress leaders, skipped dinner and stayed up the entire night on a makeshift dais in the Dharamtala area, near the Metro Y Channel after beginning the protest around 9 p.m. on Sunday.
On Monday, Banerjee seemed completely at ease doing what she has always revelled in - street protest - as she took the hand mike from time to time, gave brief speeches, attacking the BJP-ruled centre, with Prime Minister Modi and BJP chief Amit Shah being her special targets.
She claimed the sit-in was "non-political" and not against an individual agency but to oppose the "anarchic moves" by the Modi government to destroy democracy.
"Our Satyagraha is not against any individual agency. Our protest is against the attempts to divide the country and spread hate, intimidation and terror among people," she said, as her party activists put up rail and road blockades at various parts of the state, took out protest rallies with back flags and burnt Modi's effigy.
Banerjee claimed she was getting support from across the country and said the demonstration might continue till February 8. Interestingly, Modi is scheduled to address a public meeting in north Bengal on that day.
Samajwadi Party national vice president Kiranmoy Nanda joined Banerjee at the sit-in for some time, and dubbed the CBI action as a "conspiracy". Later, Rashtriya Janata Dal leader Tejashwi Yadav and DMK's Kanimozhi also came to extend solidarity to Banerjee.
Meanwhile, the strength of the Central Reserve Police Force troopers deployed at the CBI offices at Nizam Palace and the CGO Complex in Salt Lake on Sunday night, was bolstered on Monday with one more company pressed into service.
"We have come here to provide security to the CBI personnel and the documents kept here," said a CRPF trooper on condition of anonymity.
On the other hand, in a tit for tat move, the Kolkata Police served a notice to CBI joint director and head of zone (Kolkata) Pankaj Kumar Srivastava in connection with "wrongful restraint" and "wrongful confinement" of two businessmen in August last year.
Srivastava, who left for Delhi during the day with documents to help CBI lawyers in the legal fight at the Supreme Court, said he would consult his lawyers before responding to the notice.
In New Delhi, Solicitor General Tushar Mehta sought an urgent apex court hearing on Monday itself on a CBI plea describing the situation as "extraordinary", and fearing "evidence will be destroyed", but Chief Justice Ranjan Gogoi declined it saying "there's no evidence of what you're saying right now".
The court said it would hear the matter on Tuesday.
"If you show one proof they are tampering or even remotely thinking of it, we'll come down so heavily that they will regret it," said Gogoi.
The top judiciary also listed for Tuesday another CBI plea for initiating contempt against the West Bengal Chief Secretary, Director General of State Police and Kolkata police chief and seeking direction to the state government to cooperate in the investigation and make available Rajeev Kumar for questioning.
In Kolkata, the state government approached the Calcutta High Court pleading for an urgent hearing against the CBI's attempt to question Rajeev Kumar at his residence despite a stay order from the court.
However, Justice Shivakant Prasad refused an immediate hearing following an objection by the Central government, and listed it for Tuesday.
Both the Rajya Sabha and the Lok Sabha witnessed uproar as opposition parties led by the Trinamool Congress protested vehemently against the CBI raid in Kolkata, calling it a misuse of the agency against political opponents, forcing the presiding officers to adjourn the Houses for the day.
Prior to the adjournment, Union Home Minister Rajnath Singh defended CBI action, and told the Lok Sabha that the move to stop the central probe agency from performing its duties is a threat to the country's federal system.
"There are allegations of nexus between politicians and influential persons in the scam and the agency is probing the matter as per the direction of the Supreme Court. The stand-off between the agency and the state police is not only unlawful and unfortunate but also poses a grave threat to the federal and political system," he said.