March 8, 2021 4:30:52 am
For over an hour at a massive election rally in Kolkata on Sunday, Prime Minister Narendra Modi targeted Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee over her nephew’s alleged corruption, her government’s policies, and her party’s slogans. The BJP will rejuvenate Bengal and bring jobs and investment, he said.
“This time they (TMC) are saying ‘Khela Hobe (Let us play)’. They are indeed very experienced players, and know how to play,” the Prime Minister said. “People of Bengal have been looted through corruption and scams. Even cyclone Amphan relief funds were looted. You (TMC) have indulged in tolabazi (extortion), syndicates, and commission-cuts. You have done so many scams that an Olympic Games on corruption can be organised,” he said.
“You have played with the hard-earned money of the people and with their lives. You have closed down tea gardens. You have left the state debt-ridden. There is corruption even in government jobs. This game cannot go on forever and must stop. Didi, TMC ka khela shesh (TMC’s game is over). Khela khatam, vikas shuru (The game is over, development begins now).”
The time has come for “asol poriborton (real change)”, the Prime Minister said – and once it is voted to power, the BJP would build a Sonar Bangla (golden Bengal).
“The people of Bengal had once put faith in Didi to bring in poribortan. But Didi and her cadre have destroyed the faith of the people and insulted Bengal. Asol pariborton means peace and development of the state. It means better education, investments, modern infrastructure, more jobs, and fulfilling everyone’s dreams. It means development for all communities and appeasement of none. We will rejuvenate Bengal. I have come to give you hope,” Modi told the cheering crowd at Brigade Parade Ground.
Elections to West Bengal’s 294-seat Assembly are scheduled to be held in eight phases from March 27 to April 29. Results will be declared on May 2.
She was supposed to be everyone’s ‘didi’, but Mamata had been ‘bua’ (aunt) to only one nephew, Modi said. “People of Bengal had chosen you to be their didi. But why have you chosen to be the aunt of only one nephew? Instead of addressing the hopes and aspirations of lakhs of nephews in the state, why are you fulfilling the greed of only one nephew?” Modi did not name Mamata’s nephew, TMC MP Abhishek Banerjee.
“Under Mamata Banerjee, only corruption and syndicate raj has flourished. Loktantra (democracy) has vanished and loot-tantra (the culture of loot) is thriving,” he said.
The Prime Minister mocked the Chief Minister’s protest against high fuel prices, and her decision to contest the Nandigram seat, leaving Bhabanipur, which she has been representing since 2011.
“Some days ago when you were riding a scooty, everyone prayed for your safety and hoped that you don’t get hurt. It is a good thing that you did not fall, otherwise you would have described the state where that scooty is manufactured as your enemy,” Modi said.
“But your scooty instead of turning towards Bhabanipur, went to Nandigram. Didi, I wish everyone well and I don’t want anyone hurt. But what can I do if the scooty is destined to fall in Nandigram?”
Last month, Mamata rode an electric scooter in Kolkata to protest high prices of petrol and diesel. She will be contesting the Nandigram seat against the powerful local politician Suvendu Adhikari, who recently switched to BJP from TMC.
Taking a swipe at the TMC’s election slogan ‘Bangla Nijer Meyekei Chaay’ (Bengal wants only her own daughter), the PM said: “Bangla chaay shanti, unnoti o progotishil Bangla (What Bengal wants are peace, development, and progress).”
“Mamata is not only Bengal’s daughter but also India’s daughter. Bengal has seen the likes of Syama Prasad Mookerjee. BJP has Bengal in its heart. When those who believe in Marx and Lenin, and a party like the TMC, which follows the same ideology as that of the Congress, are parties of insiders, how is the BJP a party of outsiders?”
He added, “I have known Didi for long. She is not the same person who raised her voice against the Left. Today she speaks in someone else’s language, and is being remote controlled. You (Mamata) have divided people on religious lines, and thus the lotus is blooming.”
Targeting the Left-Congress alliance, Modi said, “The Left in Bengal used to say ‘Congress er kalo haath, bhenge dao, guriye dao (Crush the black hand of the Congress)’. Using such a slogan, Left came to power. What has happened to that black hand now? How did this black hand become white?”
Despite the TMC’s slogan of ‘Maa, Mati and Manush’, crimes against women were increasing in Bengal, Modi alleged. “Even an 80-year-old mother is brutally attacked,” he said, referring to recent allegations by a BJP worker that his octogenarian mother had been assaulted by TMC goons.
The next five years of development of Bengal can show the way for the next 25 years, Modi said.
“You can see the pace at which the Metro rail in Kolkata is developing. We will ensure development so that Kolkata becomes the city of the future. The smart city project here will get new energy. We will ensure that our motto of ‘sabka saath, sabka vikaas’ is followed,” Modi said.
On accusations by Mamata and former Congress president Rahul Gandhi that he favours his industrialist friends, Modi said, “All 130 crore people of India are my friends, I work for them all.”
Former actor Mithun Chakraborty, whom Mamata had sent to Rajya Sabha in 2014, joined the BJP on Sunday. He described himself as a “cobra” that kills instantly, and said it had been a mistake to be with the TMC earlier.
“Earlier my slogan used to be ‘marbo ekhane, laash porbe shoshane (I’ll hit you here, your body will land at the burning ghat)’. Now I have a new slogan. It is ‘Aami jol-dhonra noi, belebora noi, aami jaat gokhro, ek chhobolei chhobi (I’m no harmless water snake, I am a pedigreed cobra. One bite and you’ll become a picture on the wall),” Mithun said.
The Prime Minister referred to the National Award-winning actor as a “Banglar chhele (son of Bengal)”. Mithun said it had been his dream to work for the poor and underprivileged, and the BJP had given him a platform to fulfill it. Sources in the BJP said he would start campaigning from March 12.
Mithun was once known for his close proximity to the late CPM leader Subhas Chakrabarty. He switched to the TMC later, but resigned from the Upper House in 2016 after his name surfaced in the Saradha scam.
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