Welcoming TMC deserters into the BJP fold to set the tone for a bitter campaign in West Bengal where assembly elections are due next year, Union Home Minister Amit Shah Saturday targeted TMC leader and Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee, saying “this is just the beginning” and “you will be alone” by the time the polls start.
At a public meeting in Midnapore, the stronghold of former state transport minister Suvendu Adhikari who quit the TMC and joined the BJP along with Bardhaman Purba MP Sunil Kumar Mondal, nine MLAs and several others, Shah sought a 5-year mandate for the BJP and promised to turn the state into Sonar Bangla.
He also claimed that his party would form the next government with 200 seats – there are 294 seats in the state assembly.
Urging the people to oust the TMC, he singled out Banerjee: “Today, under the leadership of Suvendu bhai, all good people from the Trinamool, Congress and CPM have joined the BJP to work under the leadership of Narendra Modi. Didi says BJP engineers defections (dal-badal). Didi, I have come here to remind you: which was your original party? Was it Trinamool Congress? When you left Congress to form Trinamool Congress, wasn’t that defection?”.
“Today, when Bhai Suvendu, opposing injustice and exploitation of people of Bengal, has left you to be with Modiji, you think it’s defection, Didi? But Didi, this is just the beginning. By the time the elections come, you will be alone. Mamata didi probably never imagined the kind of tsunami I am witnessing in Bengal.”
Shah said there was a reason why so many people were deserting the TMC to join the BJP. “A person switches to another party only after careful thought. People who have joined today had once set out with the slogan of Ma, Mati, Manush (the TMC slogan). No party slogan is bad, but what did you do? You changed Ma, Mati, Manush to Tollbazi (extortion), Tushtikaran (appeasement), Bhatijavad (nepotism),” he said.
“The future of 10 crore Bengalis, the future of crores of youths is not on her mind. She only thinks when she can make her nephew the Chief Minister,” he said.
Turning to the crowd, he said: “You gave three decades to Congress, 34 years to CPM and 10 years to Trinamool Congress. Give us a chance for five years and we will make Sonar Bangla.”
He said people of Bengal, including farmers, were being deprived of benefits of central schemes.
“Rs 6000 each from the Narendra Modi government did not reach the farmers of Bengal. Farmers of Bengal have been deprived, people of Bengal have been deprived,” he said.
He claimed that money sent by Modi for relief and rehabilitation post Amphan was “pocketed” by Trinamool Congress “goondas”, as were food grains sent during the pandemic, and that the High Court had to order a CAG probe.
Speaking for the first time after severing ties with the TMC, Suvendu Adhikari slammed the leadership of his former party.
Addressing Shah, Adhikari said, “He is my elder brother. He has accepted me in the BJP Parivar. He has accepted me into the world’s largest party. When I had Covid recently, the party I served for 21 years did not call me. But Amit Shah did. My association with Amit Shah goes back. In 2014, he was general secretary of BJP and was in charge of eastern UP. In a small room at the old party office on Ashoka Road, he gave me darshan.”
“No one with self-respect can stay there (in TMC). There is no trust, no respect. I could not stay there. That is the pride of Midnapore,” he said.
“Everyone is being called out as an outsider. Who are outsiders? We are Indians first, and then Bengalis. We will save this pluralism. I am not here to be a boss. Suvendu will be a worker in the party. If the party asks me to put up flags, write graffiti on the walls, I will do it. I have just started. You will find me in every booth and neighbourhood. From tomorrow, I will start working to oust the Trinamool Congress from power,” he said.
Targeting Banerjee, Adhikari said: “You are calling me a traitor. In 1998, you could not leave your house without the blessings of Bharat Ratna Vaipayeeji. Who entered into an alliance with who at that time? Who was an NDA partner at that time? Some people are saying that I am leaving my mother. My mother’s name is Gayatri Devi. I consider her and the motherland my mother. I cannot call anyone else my mother,” he said.
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