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Tuesday, January 25, 2022

If a Gujarati can go all over the country, why can’t a Bengali: Mamata Banerjee in Goa

Mamata Banerjee asserted her Hindu Brahmin identity at a joint rally with MGP at Panaji. She said, "We don’t go to the banks of Ganga for puja only when it’s time for voting. Modiji takes a dip in the Ganga, when it’s time to vote."

Written by MAYURA JANWALKAR | Panaji |
Updated: December 15, 2021 1:00:08 pm
Mamata Banerjee addressed her first joint rally in Panaji with Maharashtrawadi Gomantak Party (MGP), TMC's political alliance for the Goa Assembly elections. (Photo: Twitter/AITCofficial)

Addressing a rally in North Goa’s Assonora on Tuesday, West Bengal Chief Minister and Trinamool Congress (TMC) chairperson Mamata Banerjee said, “If a Gujarati can go all over the country, why can’t a Bengali?”

“I am told I am Bengali. Then what is he? He is a Gujarati? Have we said he is a Gujarati so he cannot come here? A Bengali can write the national anthem but a Bengali cannot come to Goa? We all respect Gandhiji. Have we ever questioned if Gandhiji is a Bengali or a non-Bengali or Goanese or from UP? Desh ka neta wohi hota hai joh sabko saath leke chalta hai (A national leader is the one who takes everybody along),” Banerjee said.

Banerjee said that her party’s entry into Goa’s politics had been questioned by other parties, however, she added that the TMC was not in Goa to remote control its leaders but to support them. “Yeh log kya desh ka neta banega? Goa Gujarat se chalata hai. (They will be national leaders? They run Goa from Gujarat). Goa will not be run from Gujarat or Delhi. The people of Goa will run Goa,” she said.

Addressing another rally in Panaji — her first joint rally with the Maharashtrawadi Gomantak Party (MGP), TMC’s newly-formed political alliance in Goa — Banerjee said that the “joint family” she had in Goa was the “real alternative” to the BJP.

Asserting her Hindu Brahmin identity, Banerjee listed the several pujas she performed including those of deities Durga, Ganesh and Kali and recited the Chandi Paath followed by applause from the crowd gathered, comprising mainly of supporters of the MGP, sporting the party’s saffron scarfs but also waving TMC flags.

Banerjee said she did not need a “character certificate” from the BJP. “We don’t go to the banks of Ganga for puja only when it’s time for voting. Modiji takes a dip in the Ganga, when it’s time to vote. He goes to a temple in Uttarakhand for tapasya (penance). When it’s time for polls he becomes a purohit (priest) himself. Let him be, he has the freedom to do that. But where is he the rest of the year? Jis desh mein Ganga behti hai, the UP government throws Covid dead bodies in the river. They made mother Ganga impure. They have no (data on) number of people who died due to Covid. We call Ganga our mother and BJP people have thrown Covid dead bodies in the Ganga. We don’t like this,” said Banerjee in Assonora, backing TMC leaders Kiran and Kavita Kandolkar, who were set to contest the Tivim and Aldona seats from the Goa Forward Party before they joined the Trinamool Congress.

Addressing the rally in Panaji, former deputy chief minister and MGP’s lone MLA Ramkrishna alias Sudin Dhavalikar said, “She (Banerjee) comes from a humble, Brahmin family and today she is the CM of West Bengal. We are proud of her.” The BJP had earlier called the alliance between the TMC and the MGP “unholy”. Dhavalikar said that 72 per cent of TMC MLAs were Hindus. “They (BJP) don’t need to teach us. I have worked for every religion”.

The MGP had supported the Manohar Parrikar-led BJP government in 2017 but after his death and following the defections of 12 MLAs, including two from the MGP, Dhavalikar, then deputy chief minister, was dropped from the government by Parrikar’s successor, Chief Minister Pramod Sawant. Dhavalikar said that he had been instrumental in bringing BJP to power in Goa but after Parrikar’s death the party was no longer the same. Calling it the “political Narakasur”, Dhavalikar said that the TMC and MGP had allied to slay this demon.

At her rally in Panaji, Banerjee also said that the SIT appointed to probe the Lakhimpur Kheri incident in which four farmers and a journalist were killed had said that the incident was a “planned conspiracy”. “Shouldn’t the CM of UP resign? Shouldn’t the Home Minister resign? Shouldn’t the Prime Minister talk about it?”

“Those who want to defeat the BJP are requested not to divide votes, come back and join us,” Banerjee said, repeating that her party was open to working with any other that was serious about fighting the BJP. “Congress says big, big things. They say they will fight alone. They fight us even now. First fight the BJP and then talk big,” Banerjee said in Panaji. In her rally in Assonora, she also said that she had nothing against Congress.

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