Terming the BJP the “Bohiragoto Jaghanya Party” (heinous outsiders’ party), West Bengal chief minister Mamata Banerjee on Thursday accused it of backing a new political outfit with the aim to split votes of minorities in the assembly elections beginning on March 27. Addressing a huge public rally in Patharpratima locality in South 24 Parganas district, the Trinamool Congress chief said, “Beware of them. The BJP sent them to divide the minority vote share… The BJP is a ‘Bohiragoto Jaghanya Party’. In this election, show them the exit door.”
Observers say Mamata’s barb was likely targeted at Furfura Sharif cleric Abbas Siddiqui’s Indian Secular Front, which is fighting the polls as part of the Left-Congress alliance as well as the All India Majlis-e-Ittehad-ul-Muslimeen (AIMIM) of Asaduddin Owaisi. The Trinamool is wary of the two parties changing the political equations in the state as any significant division in the Muslim vote share, a key factor in nearly 90 assembly segments out of the total 294, could benefit the BJP and jeopardise the TMC’s chances of holding on to power.
Mamata alleged that the founder of that outfit had received money from the BJP. She also asked the people to watch out for Rashtriya Swayamsevak Sangh (RSS) cadres, who she said were roaming around with cash to lure voters.
“I won’t say that all RSS activists are bad. But there are a few RSS activists who are not good. They are approaching villagers in Bengal with money and telling them to vote for the BJP. I would like to suggest to you all to accept the money but reduce the BJP to zero in these assembly elections,” she said.
The assembly polls to the 294-member state assembly will be held in eight phases starting from March 27. The final round of voting will take place on April 29. The votes will be counted on May 2.
Sharpening her attacks on Prime Minister Narendra Modi, Mamata said, “I respect the chair of the prime minister, but I haven’t seen a liar like Narendra Modi. He is spreading misinformation. They are bringing goons from other states to disturb the harmony and culture of Bengal. I would like to ask the BJP, who was behind the Gujarat riots? Who was behind the riots in Delhi and Uttar Pradesh? The US banned him (Modi) for the Gujarat riots. Narendra Modi is renaming a stadium after him. One day he will rename India after himself. Look at the way they have snatched the power in Delhi. They (BJP leadership at the Centre) are more dangerous than Hitler.”
Mamata alleged that even the Congress and CPI(M) had an understanding with the BJP. Expressing gratitude to the crowd, she said, “I am thankful to you for coming here in large numbers. Today’s mood is clearly hinting that the BJP’s wish will never be fulfilled here in Bengal. The BJP may try to manipulate exit polls but I know what the people have decided this time. The BJP (through the media) claimed that it will win 175 assembly seats in Bengal. I would like to challenge them…first win 75 seats, then think about 175.”
The BJP is making a big push to snatch the reins of Bengal from Mamata Banerjee’s Trinamool Congress, which has been in power in the state since 2011. The saffron party’s star campaigners, including Prime Minister Narendra Modi and union home minister Amit Shah, have accused the TMC of institutionalised corruption, Muslim appeasement, heavy-handed governance, and neglecting development, among other things.
Countering the charges, Mamata said, “We have done several development projects in South 24 Parganas. We have built 5,300 km of roads, 149 jetties, 25,000 tube wells have been installed… In the future, we have many more plans for the development of this district. We have also decided to make the Sundarbans a separate district. The BJP has given nothing during Cyclone Amphan and accused us of mishandling funds. I believe the people will give befitting replies to them.”