In an apparent reference to the Indian Secular Front, West Bengal Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee on Thursday accused the BJP of backing a new political party to eat into minority votes during the upcoming assembly polls. Without naming any party or any person, Banerjee also claimed at an election rally in South 24 Parganas district the founder of that outfit receives money from the BJP.
"A new political outfit has been launched in the state at the behest of the BJP to grab a share of the minority votes and help the saffron party. Please don't vote for its candidates," she said. Abbas Siddiqui, a Muslim cleric, had recently launched the ISF and it is supporting the Left-Congress alliance in the assembly elections, the first phase of which is slated for Saturday.
Siddiqui had also created a flutter by meeting All India Majlis-e-Ittehadul Muslimeen (AIMIM) chief and MP Asaduddin Owaisi, whose party is likely to contest in the polls. At the rally in Patharpratima, Banerjee said the CPI(M) and Congress have an understanding with the BJP.
Only the Trinamool Congress can prevent implementation of the Citizenship (Amendment) Act and the National Population Register in the state, and ensure amity among different communities, she said. Responding to repeated allegations by the BJP against her and the TMC, Banerjee said, "Am I being called a thief and murderer because I love people, and always rush to be on their side whenever required?" The Trinamool Congress boss also dubbed Prime Minister Narendra Modi and Home Minister Amit Shah as "the lords of thieves", demanding an explanation on "provident fund dues of lakhs of employees", and sale of PSU stakes.
On cyclone Amphan and relief measures in its aftermath, she said, "Out of the Rs 1 lakh crore of damages, he (Modi) had promised only a small fraction (Rs 1,000 crore) as help. But, whose money is this? This is state's money. The Centre did not do Bengal any favour. "From cyclone Bulbul to Amphan, we have always come to the rescue of people. We monitored the situation risking our lives, and not sit in the comfort of home. The state government had managed to evacuate 19 lakh people from disaster zones during Amphan." Around 30 lakh damaged houses are being rebuilt, the CM said.
"There can be one or two exceptions…," she said in reference to opposition parties' allegations of graft in execution of rehabilitation work. "However, if anyone has not received the relief amount, the person can get the same by writing to the administration after the elections." Banerjee also slammed Shah for asking in public meetings what the TMC had done for West Bengal. "Let me ask him, have you undertaken schemes like 'Kanyashree', 'Sabujsathi' and 'Khadyasathi'? Have you heard about 'Duare Sarkar' and its success? Are you giving ration free? "If the TMC returns to power, it will unveil more such historic social welfare projects covering every section of society," she asserted.
Banerjee alleged that Shah had "instructed" few media houses to project a higher number of seats for the BJP in surveys, but "first let it cross the 75-seat mark, which the saffron party will not be able to". At another rally in Sagar in South 24 Parganas district, she gave the call for "Unnatataro TMC sarkar" (a TMC government with increased focus on development-centric activities).