BJP's Bengal unit chief Dilip Ghosh on Sunday asserted that the saffron party does not discriminate on religious lines and assured Muslims that they also enjoy the same rights that he does under the Narendra Modi-led NDA government at the Centre. And it is "only the BJP" that believes in this ideology", Ghosh said at a rally at the port city of Haldia in Purba Medinipur district.
This assumes significance with the 2021 state assembly polls due in April-May. "We do not follow different policies depending upon a person's status, political affiliation or anything else when it comes to distribution of benefits of schemes.
"Muslims of Bengal have benefitted from the various schemes of Prime Minister Narendra Modi. There has been no differentiation as done by the TMC government. "You (Muslims) are respected citizens having same rights like Dilip Ghosh, and only the BJP believes in this ideology," he said.
Ghosh was speaking at the citadel of state Transport minister Suvendu Adhikary who of late has been maintaining a distance with the leaders of the ruling Trinamool Congress and has given several important party meetings a miss. In the past, Ghosh had been quite vocal about the minority community, particularly while speaking about alleged Muslim infiltrators from Bangladesh.
He alleged that all political parties who ruled West Bengal be it the CPI(M)-led Left Front, Congress and the TMC, had used Muslims only as "vote bank by keeping them illiterate, jobless and poor". Mentioning that the Mamata Banerjee government in the state had differentiated among people, Ghosh said, "earlier, the Trinamool Congress (TMC) government had announced Rs 2,000 as stipend for Imams. And only after realising that Hindus were annoyed, she announced Rs 1,000 for priests. Why this difference?" Moreover, "Only 8,000 priests will receive stipend when there are 80,000 such eligible persons. And unless you are a party follower the stipend is not for you," the BJP leader alleged, asking the priests to decline to accept the stipend as it is "ill-gotten".
Ghosh was confident that the saffron party would win over 200 out of the total 294 seats in the 2021 state assembly elections. During his recent visit to the state, Union Home Minister and top BJP leader Amit Shah on Thursday had set a target of winning 200 seats.
Shah had asked BJP functionaries to take a vow to work hard to achieve the target. "The party is keeping tabs on police officers who are harassing BJP workers and threatening leaders of other political parties, who wish to switch camps, with false cases," Ghosh said.
Holding the West Bengal government responsible for the spiralling potato price in the state, the BJP state president said, the ruling dispensation in the state owes an explanation to people on this issue. Despite having a bumper production of potato this year as well, the market price of potato has ballooned in recent times.
Ghosh also claimed that if elected to power, the BJP will withdraw all "false cases" against political activists, including TMC workers, alleging that the "vindictive attitude" of Mamata Banerjee government has resulted in filing of 28,000 such cases against adversaries of the TMC. Describing Ghosh's comments as "baseless and frivolous", TMC Rajya Sabha MP Sukhendu Sekhar Roy said, "the state is regularly conducting raids in markets to ensure that sellers do not hike potato prices while the tuber is being sold at lower prices from state outlets." The senior TMC leader said, the Centre's recent decision to remove regulatory control on essential commodities has emboldened a section of traders to hoard potato and sell the product at a premium.
Senior TMC leader and Lok Sabha MP Sougata Roy said, Ghosh's "dream of coming to power will never be realised. He is prone to make baseless comments." .