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With Polls Round the Corner, UP Health Minister to Visit Bengal to Deliver Talk on Ayushman Bharat

BJP president Amit Shah has said that the BJP will win at least 22 out of the 42 Lok Sabha seats from the state and he would visit every district personally before the polls.

Aniruddha Ghosal | News18.com

Updated:September 10, 2018, 12:24 PM IST
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With Polls Round the Corner, UP Health Minister to Visit Bengal to Deliver Talk on Ayushman Bharat
File photo of UP health minister Sidhartha Nath Singh.
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New Delhi: Uttar Pradesh Health Minister Siddharth Nath Singh will be in Kolkata on September 30 to deliver a lecture on the Ayushman Bharat Mission. But with polls round the corner, the lecture is likely to take on a political hue.

Apart from the Ayushman Bharat Mission of the National Health Protection Scheme, Singh - who had famously coined the slogan 'Bhag Mamata Bhag' in 2014 - is also expected to speak about why an Assam-like National Register of Citizens (NRC) would be a "good idea for Bengal", said BJP sources.

In a public meeting in 2014, Singh, who at the time was BJP's West Bengal in-charge, had said, "In 2015 it will be bhag Mukul (Roy) bhag. In 2016 it will be Bhag Mamata Bhag (run)." Although his prediction didn't come true with the BJP finishing a distant third in the 2016 Assembly elections. Things though have changed since then.

Mukul Roy, for instance, has joined the BJP and has been key to the party's preparations for the 2019 Lok Sabha polls. The party has been further emboldened by their performance in the state panchayat elections in May, where it emerged as the second-most dominant player and has also finished second in three bypolls this year.

BJP president Amit Shah has said that the BJP will win at least 22 out of the 42 Lok Sabha seats from the state and he would visit every district personally before the polls.

A BJP leader explained, "Siddharth Nath Singh knows and understands Bengal politics. He will be speaking on Ayushman Bharat, which is again something that the Bengal CM blindly opposed and then later accepted. This is what she has been doing throughout: blind opposition to try and confuse the voters. But the voters won't be fooled."

West Bengal joined NHPM earlier last month after initially being extremely critical of the scheme, pointing to the state government's existing insurance scheme. As per its MoU, the NHPM will be in West Bengal in alliance with the state health scheme Swasthya Saathi, under which 40 lakh families are provided an annual health cover of Rs 5 lakh.

The BJP leaders pointed out that the decision to also speak about NRC in the context of Bengal was key. Banerjee has been one of the most vocal critics of the NRC, dubbing it an "anti-Bengali exercise".

Hitting out at Mamata, Amit Shah asked the West Bengal CM to "clarify whether national security is important for them (TMC) or vote bank."

It is this issue of "vote bank", BJP leaders said, which will be key for them in the coming election. Singh's lecture on September 30, they added, would be setting the tone for their campaign.

Infiltration along the Indo-Bangladesh border has long been a political issue which the BJP has
utilised in the state.

During the 2016 election campaign, Prime Minister Narendra Modi and Home Minister Rajnath Singh had both articulated the "problem of illegal migration". Singh had spoken of Bangladesh as a "friendly country" and the need for better management of the border, while Modi had linked the lack of employment opportunities in the state to illegal migration.

"This is an emotive issue for Bengal. Mamata Banerjee is trying to confuse the voters of Bengal, by making this a Bengali versus non-Bengali issue.

This is because it is her government that has allowed the infiltration to take place. This is a national issue not a regional one," said another senior BJP leader.


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