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Contest for West Bengal Heats up: Amit Shah Trains Gun on Mamata Banerjee, RJD and TMC 'Cosy Up'

File photos of Amit Shah and Mamata Banerjee

File photos of Amit Shah and Mamata Banerjee

Union Minister Smriti Irani deputised at the Howrah rally for Amit Shah, who had to cancel his visit to the state following the explosion near the Israel embassy in New Delhi. The TMC asserted that Mamata Banerjee will return as Chief Minister for a third time if the party is elected. Rajib Banerjee, a day after joining the BJP, attacked the Bengal government's 'Swasthya Sathi' scheme.

Addressing a rally in West Bengal's Howrah via video-conferencing, Home Minister Amit Shah on Sunday said that the state was in a worse situation under the rule of Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee than it had been under the Left regime.

In another salvo at the Trinamool Congress (TMC) supremo, Shah said she was working only for the benefit of her nephew Abhishek Banerjee. "I want to make it clear that the BJP would come to power in the state after the elections. While the Modi government is working towards 'jan kalyan' (serving people), the Mamata Banerjee government is working towards 'bhatija kalyan' (serving her nephew) in Bengal," Shah said.

Confident that the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) will form the next government in the state, he said in its first cabinet meeting the government will implement the Ayushman Bharat scheme which was blocked by the CM. “Mamata Banerjee is not implementing the central schemes, including ‘Ayushman Bharat’ in Bengal. Crores of people across India have availed free surgeries under Ayushman Bharat. But I am sorry to say that she has not implemented the scheme in Bengal. Mamata-ji, don’t you think people of Bengal have the right to avail this free and quality treatment? Why are you not implementing it? We are not doing politics.. it’s you who is doing politics," he said.

"Mamata Banerjee should think why so many TMC leaders are joining the BJP. It is because she has failed the people of the state. elections arrive, she will be left alone," he said, hinting at more exodus from the ruling party. "By the time the elections will be held in Bengal, Mamata Didi will turn back and see no one in the party. There will no one left except for her," he continued.

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Shah also stated that although the TMC slogan is 'Maa Mati Manush' (Mother Land People), the party in reality indulges in extortion, corruption and appeasement.

Shah was scheduled to travel to West Bengal but cancelled his visit due to the explosion near the Israel embassy on January 29. Union Minister Smriti Irani addressed the rally at Howrah instead.

TMC looted rations provided by Centre: Irani

Accusing the TMC of corruption, Irani said that while Prime Minister Narendra Modi provided foodgrains for 80 crore people of the country for eight months during the pandemic, the rations were looted by the TMC. Maintaining that the PM had said that each migrant worker returning home during the coronavirus lockdown be given at least 100 days of employment under Garib Rojgar Yojana, Irani said, though countrywide more than 50 crore mandays were created, "it did not happen in Bengal".

Mentioning that Shramik Special Trains arranged by the Centre were termed 'Corona Express' by Mamata Banerjee, Irani said, "I want to ask her whether sons and daughters from Bengal working in different parts of the country are considered viruses by her".

Maintaining that more than 130 BJP workers died in Bengal, she said that their sacrifice will be remembered by people who will silently vote for the saffron party with the slogan "chup chap, padma chap, padma chap (silently cast your vote by pressing the lotus button -BJP's poll symbol).

RJD may contest with TMC

Bihar’s main opposition party Rashtriya Janata Dal (RJD) is in talks with the TMC to fight the upcoming West Bengal elections together, senior RJD leader Shyam Rajak said. RJD spokesperson Mrityunjay Tiwary said over the phone from Patna that the party is exploring the possibility of contesting some seats on the Bengal-Bihar border.

RJD spokesperson Mrityunjay Tiwary told PTI that the party is exploring the possibility of contesting some seats on the Bengal-Bihar border. Banerjee has a cordial relation with RJD supremo Lalu Prasad and the party wishes to strengthen her hands in the Bengal polls, Tiwary said.

The primary objective of the RJD is to stop the “communal” BJP from increasing its influence in West Bengal and strengthen the secular forces under the leadership of the TMC chief, he added.

RJD principal general secretary Abdul Bari Siddiqui and national general secretary Shyam Rajak are in Kolkata to hammer a tie-up with the TMC for the Bengal polls, RJD leaders claimed.

"We will be meeting Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee on Monday to fight Bengal elections together," Rajak told PTI. Siddiqui and Rajak met RJD leaders in the state ahead of the discussions with Banerjee.

Mamata will be next CM: TMC

The TMC said that Mamata Banerjee will be the chief minister of West Bengal for a third time when the party is voted to power, asserting that those suggesting her nephew Abhishek will be appointed to the top post are trying to create confusion.

"Everyone knows that Mamata Banerjee will be our chief minister for the third time. How can Amit Shah make such a claim? There has been no talk in the party to appoint Abhishek as the future CM. Such claims are only aimed to create confusion," senior leader Saugata Roy said.

PM to visit Bengal on Feb 7

Prime Minister Narendra Modi will visit West Bengal on February 7, making it his second visit to the poll-bound state in a fortnight. "PM Modi will visit West Bengal on February 7. He will be here to dedicate three projects and lay the foundation stone for one project at the invitation of GoI's petroleum department and the road transport department,” Union petroleum minister Dharmendra Pradhan said, according to news agency ANI.

Modi visited Bengal on January 23 to participate in the Parakram Diwas celebrations held to commemorate Subhas Chandra Bose's 125th birth anniversary.

Abhishek Banerjee calls out BJP's 'anti-national act'

TMC MP Abhishek Banerjee took a dig at BJP leaders for "not being able to sing the national anthem properly" at a rally in Kolkata's adjoining Howrah Dumurjala stadium. "Those preaching patriotism and nationalism can't even sing our national anthem correctly. This is the party which claims to uphold India's honour and pride. Shameful," Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee's nephew said, sharing a video clip on his Twitter handle.

Calling this "anti-national" act, the leader of West Bengal's ruling party also demanded an "apology" from Prime Minister Narendra Modi, Union Home Minister Amit Shah and the BJP. "Will Modi, Shah and the BJP apologise for this anti-national act?" he asked.

Bengal govt's health scheme a hoax: Rajib Banerjee

A day after joining the BJP, former West Bengal minister Rajib Banerjee claimed that the TMC government's much-publicised "Swasthya Sathi" scheme is a hoax as funds are insufficient. Attacking the TMC government for launching public outreach programmes just months before the assembly elections, he said that the BJP, after coming to power, will ensure that services reach the doorstep of people throughout the year.

This is an indication of the beginning of the end for the TMC, he said. There is no need for the TMC to remain in power as the party claimed long back that 99 per cent of development work had already been undertaken by it, Banerjee said in his first public meeting after being inducted into the saffron party in presence of Union Home Minister Amit Shah in New Delhi on Saturday.

(With agency inputs)

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