Making a strong pitch for a BJP government in West Bengal to usher in 'Asol Poriborton' (real change), party chief J P Nadda on Thursday sought to punch a hole in the TMC's main poll plank of Bengali pride and asked the people of the state whether they want to side with development or "cut money culture". Nadda, while launching the 'Lokkho Sonar Bangla' (target to build golden Bengal) manifesto crowdsourcing campaign to seek suggestions from more than two crore people in the state ahead of the assembly elections, alleged that Bengali icons and women have been neglected and the "pride of Bengal has to be restored".
He said that the party's manifesto will stress the socio-economic empowerment of the Matua community, women and youth, and put an end to the "cut money" and "syndicate" culture in the state. "The Lokkho Sonar Bangla campaign will begin on March 3 and continue till March 30. We aim to reach out to more than two crore people spread across all the 294 constituencies.
"There will be 30,000 suggestion boxes, and people can also give suggestions digitally. We don't think we have all the wisdom, so we want to seek suggestions from the common people in our endeavour to build Sonar Bangla," Nadda said during the launch of the programme. Claiming that the campaign is aimed at bringing the state on the path of development, the BJP chief said the party seeks suggestions on how to boost industry, agriculture, health and religious tourism among other sectors.
"The campaign aims to free the state from corruption, coal smuggling syndicate raj and cut money culture. West Bengal has a lot of potential, which has, however, been curtailed over the years due to vested political interests. We want to bring back the glorious days of the state," he said. The BJP chief promised that the party will implement the Seventh Pay Commission in the state if voted to power.
"West Bengal is at the crossroads. It has to decide whether it wants development or to side with the culture of corruption and cut money. For the state's development, we need a double-engine government (same party's government both at the Centre and the state)," he said. Apart from the ongoing five-phase 'Parivartan Yatra', 'Lokko Sonar Bangla' is another mass contact programme launched by the BJP ahead of the assembly elections due in April-May.
Nadda said that the BJP aims to build a West Bengal where women can live without fear and students from the Matua community get education and jobs to lead a good life. "The icons of Bengal who have been the leading lights of the country and have guided India both before and after Independence have been neglected in the state. We will take Bengal to new heights by following the teachings and ideals of Swami Vivekananda, Rabindranath Tagore among others," he said.
He said more than 1.4 crore toilets have been built in West Bengal under the Swacch Bharat Mission, and the figures speak about the condition of the women in the state. "The Swachh Bharat Mission was criticised by many people when it launched. But look how this scheme of construction of toilets has empowered women in the rural areas.
"Our mothers and sisters had to wait till dusk to relieve themselves. But more than 11 crore toilets have been built across the country, including 1.4 crore in Bengal. This speaks about the condition of the women," he said. His comments come just days after the TMC unveiled its poll slogan 'Bangla Nijer Meyekei Chaye' (Bengal wants its own daughter), portraying Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee as its mascot with a focus on women voters and Bengali sub- nationalism.
Bengali actor Payal Sarkar joined the saffron party in the presence of Nadda. Meanwhile, the BJP leadership claimed that the police denied permission for its 'Parivartan Yatra' in Barrackpore in North 24 Parganas district, scheduled to be addressed by Nadda in the evening.