Amit Shah sounds poll bugle in West Bengal; promises ‘Sanskari Bengal, Sonar Bangla’ if elected
On Tuesday, India recorded 9,987 new COVID-19 cases - the highest single-day rise so far. The Supreme Court directed the Centre and states to facilitate the return of migrants to their home states within 15 days, starting today. The economy is in deep trouble and border tension with China is on the rise. But it’s the upcoming state elections that are occupying Home Minister Amit Shah’s mind and his priority list.
Union Home Minister and BJP leader Amit Shah virtually kicked off the campaign for the West Bengal Assembly elections due in April 2021, on Tuesday. After Bihar, it was West Bengal's turn to have a virtual BJP rally streamed across 70,000 LED screens.
Called ‘Jan Samvad’ or public outreach programme, the BJP leader launched into a high-pitched tirade against the Trinamool Congress government, accusing it of facilitating corruption, infiltration, appeasement and unemployment in the state.
Shah, on expected lines, listed the Modi government’s “achievements” during the address, which included everything from Ujjwala, PM-Kisan, Jan Dhan accounts to surgical strike, abrogation of article 370 and 35A, triple talaq and how under the Modi government “right arguments were made in the Supreme Court to facilitate the construction of Ram Temple in Ayodhya”.
Throughout the speech, the Union Home Minister accused West Bengal Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee of “taking Bengal in the opposite direction of development and towards poverty.” He accused the state government of denying the people of West Bengal the benefits of Ayushman Bharat Yojana and promised that if a BJP Chief Minister takes the oath in Bengal, Ayushman Bharat will be applicable from the next minute.
Amit Shah also alleged that the West Bengal government is not letting farmers benefit from the Pradhan Mantri Kisan Samman Nidhi (PM-KISAN).
"Mamata Banerjee is preventing the farmers of the state from receiving Rs 6,000 because she is scared that PM Modi will become more popular... Give us the list on Saturday and we will disburse the amount by Monday," Shah added.
He also trained his guns against the Mamata Banerjee government on issues like its COVID-19 response, to the return of migrants and the Citizenship (Amendment) Act.
He claimed that the migrant labourers whose hometowns are in West Bengal will not forget Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee’s statement labelling “Shramik Special” trains that arrived in the state “corona express”.
He said that this has rubbed salt in the wounds of migrant workers and “the name ‘corona express’ that you have given, Mamata didi, will become your exit route.”
On the issue of Citizenship (Amendment) Act (CAA), he said that Mamata Banerjee’s opposition to it will cost her dearly. He even mentioned Matuas, Namashudras and people originally from what is now Bangladesh, to give his rhetoric a local flavour.
However, during his one-hour-long address, the Home Minister did not mention the National Register of Population (NRC) even once.
Last year, the Trinamool Congress had led huge rallies across the state against CAA and the proposed NRC.
Coming to what changes BJP will bring to the state if elected, Shah said that the BJP will bring about a “Sanskari Bangal and Sonar Bangla”. However, there was no mention of how BJP would attract investment to the state, create jobs and increase state GDP.
Instead, he focused on how Bengal used to be not only the thought leaders but also a prosperous state filled with renaissance men like Rabindranath Tagore, Swami Vivekananda, Chaitanya and Bankimchandra Chattopadhyay.
With just nine months to go for the West Bengal elections, the campaign is supposed to be high-octane as the BJP is desperate to assume power in the state after surprising everyone in the Lok Sabha polls by bagging 18 of 42 seats.