THE PACKED BNR grounds in Kharagpur saw a far more aggressive Narendra Modi than West Bengal had seen during the BJP campaign of 2014. Then, the prime ministerial candidate had talked of Bengali culture, rosogullas and Durga Puja, Tagore and Netaji, and Gujarat’s connections to Bengal. Now, the Prime Minister took on the Mamata government and talked of the Saradha-Narada episodes, arms factories and violence.
“Parivartan, parivartan, parivartan,” Modi said Sunday to over 15,000 supporters. “Five years ago when the people of Bengal decided you wanted change and voted out the Left, I thought… Bengal ke bure din jayenge, Bengal me parivartan ayenge. But having witnessed what has happened in the past five years, I now feel that what it took the Left 34 years to do, the ruin that they managed to bring to West Bengal, the present government has managed in only the past five years,” he said.
“What is the change that you received from Didi? Saradha se Narada tak. The party’s entire leadership has been caught on camera taking money. Imagine how much more they must have taken off camera. Whose money were they taking,’’ he asked, and the crowds responded, “Ours.”
“So you have got change,” Modi said. “What is the change that you have got? You have got change in the form of Didi’s behaviour, in her intention, in her attitude. This government is one that is busy manufacturing arms and making bombs. Arms factories are sprouting all over the state. Daughters and sisters are being kidnapped. People are being murdered. Criminals abound. And she says, all that is okay, just make sure that you press the button on our symbol… I fear for your life and safety.”
Pointing out that Bengal was once the hub of the biggest industries, he said each of these industries have left for other states over the years. “And how can you generate employment without industries,” he said. “The only industry that is doing well in Bengal — one in every village, is that of the arms industry.”
Mocking Mamata’s claim of providing rice at Rs 2 per kilo for all BPL families, Modi said, “We pay from the central coffers Rs 27 for each poor person to get rice at subsidised rates. We do the work, and then she takes the credit. The Prime Minister that the people of the country has voted in is the one who is doing all this work,’’ he said.
Taking a dig at the CPM-Congress alliance, he said, “The Left and the Congress are fighting each other in Kerala as well as Bengal. But while in Kerala they are doing kushti, in Bengal they are doing dosti,” he said.
Modi asked for votes for development and for him instead of candidates. “Whether you know the BJP candidates or not, whether you have ever met them or not, whether they belong to your community or not — I say just shut your eyes and vote for them and you will be voting for my government,’’ he said.
BJP state chief and party candidate from Kharagpur Dilip Ghosh spoke on nationalism, asking whether the people “will allow Pakistan zindabad slogans to be raised in Bengal”.