Domkal (West Bengal): West Bengal Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee on Wednesday said one can threaten or call her names, but cannot scare her.
Her remarks came after a Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) youth wing leader placed a Rs 11 lakh bounty on her head, drawing condemnation across the political spectrum.
Without naming anyone, Banerjee said, "They can abuse me, vilify me and conspire against me. They can abuse me as much as they want. I pray to God to forgive them. They do not know what they are saying. I will not say anything more."
Subsequently on Wednesday, Muslim cleric Nur-ur Rehman Barkati made a counter-offer of Rs 22 lakh for beheading BJP youth wing leader Yogesh Varshney, who announced the bounty of Rs 11 lakh. The cleric is widely known for issuing fatwas against eminent political leaders and like Prime Minister Narendra Modi and authors like Salman Rushdie.
In an apparent reference to the Hindutva brigade, she told a public meeting in Domkal of Murshidabad, "If anyone says that being a Hindu I can't go to a mosque or a church, it cannot be so. I am committed to the people. I am committed to protect everyone. There is no use threatening me.
"The more you threaten or call me names, the more I will proceed... Your criticism will be blessings for us. That will help us move forward. Now we are in Bengal. We will move to Bihar, Odisha, Jharkhand and then to Delhi," she said.
She also reiterated that the people would decide what they want to eat or what they wear. No political party can decide that, she said and asked the people not to get provoked by any instigation.
"Do not fall prey to false propaganda spread through the Internet and social networking site. Social networks have been used to spread false rumours in lieu of money. Huge funds from abroad are coming in for this.
"Don't be scared. Always remember that I am there as your biggest custodian," Banerjee said.
Referring to the brandishing of swords at Ram Navami processions by RSS affiliates, she said, "Some locals have popped up suddenly asking people to play with swords. That's not Bengal's culture," adding "Let them learn Bengal's culture first, then comment about the state".
"There is no need to give importance to them," she said....