Kicking off his party’s Lok Sabha election campaign in West Bengal, BJP national president Amit Shah on Tuesday tore into TMC chief Mamata Banerjee for running a “corrupt, anti-people and murderous” government in the state and trying to remove Prime Minister Narendra Modi “by holding hands with 20-25 leaders”.
Addressing a public meeting as part of Ganatanatra Bachao Yatra at Habibpur in Malda district, Shah described the TMC’s United India rally —- where 25 Opposition leaders shared the dais —- as an alliance of lust and greed.
“What kind of alliance is this? It is all about lust and greed. They have only one agenda, which is to remove Modi. They did not say Bharat Mata ki jai or Vande Mataram. They only chanted Modi, Modi. Our agenda is clear. We want to remove poverty, corruption and unemployment. Mamata Banerjee must realise she cannot remove Modi by holding hands with 20 to 25 leaders. This alliance will not work. All they want is a majboor (helpless) government so that they can indulge in corruption. But we want a majboot (strong) government,” he said.
Setbacks force party to shift to Plan B
Amit Shah’s departure is another setback for the state BJP, a day after it announced it was scrapping its proposed Brigade rally with Prime Minister Narendra Modi. While the party said Union Minister Smriti Irani is scheduled to speak at its Suri rally, it is yet to find a major leader to address its third rally in Jhargram the same day. This, in addition to problems obtaining permission for the Jhargram rally, has resulted in a loss of momentum, affecting the morale of the state unit cadre.
Taking a dig at those who attended the January 19 rally, he said that nine of them had aspirations to be PM. “There is a queue of Opposition leaders who want to be the next PM. But we have only one PM who has the support of hundred crore people.”
Vowing to uproot the TMC government, Shah said, “We have to take a pledge today to remove this undemocratic, corrupt, anti-people and murderous TMC government from power. This election will mark the beginning of the end for TMC in Bengal which has killed democracy and politicised the administration.”
About the Rath Yatras that were planned by the BJP in West Bengal, Shah said, “She was sure that if we take out the Rath yatras then it would signal her antim yatra (last journey). If you stop us from taking out Raths, we will take out rallies and hold meetings… If you do not let us land the chopper, then I will speak from the helicopter. The more you stop us and beat our workers, the more lotuses will bloom in Bengal.”
The BJP leader also hit out at TMC over Saradha, Narada and Rose Valley scams, and for running a “syndicate raj”. “There is no syndicate tax in Gujarat. But here you have to pay syndicate tax to construct your properties. Where does this syndicate tax go?… We will put an end to this syndicate raj in Bengal,” he said.
Shah alleged that only bomb-making industries were thriving in Bengal. “Today the sound of Rabindra Sangeet is getting drowned by the sound of bomb blasts. Only bomb-making and weapon-making industries are flourishing in Bengal. The state government don’t pay dearness allowance to its employees. It is yet to implement seventh pay commission,” he said.
Shah returns to Delhi
After the rally, Shah, who had been diagnosed with swine flu on January 18, returned to Delhi on Tuesday evening after his health condition deteriorated. The BJP chief attended a rally in Malda district, and was scheduled to hold another rally in Jhargram district on Wednesday.
“He returned to Delhi as his health condition deteriorated. We did not want to pressure him to attend the rally tomorrow as a long election campaign awaits us. At our advice and his doctor’s, he went back to Delhi and will not attend tomorrow’s rally,” said BJP national secretary Rahul Sinha.
The BJP national president was scheduled to flag off the Rath Yatras on December 7. However, the party failed to get a Supreme Court nod on it after a prolonged court battle.
It was then decided that Shah would address public meetings instead. Ahead of Shah’s rally in Malda, the BJP alleged that the state government denied permission to land his chopper at the airstrip.
Shah’s chopper landed at a private property near the venue, after which the rally was held as scheduled.
Referring to Mamata pulling out of Ayushman Bharat, Shah said, “She is scared that through this scheme the PM will become popular.”