‘Santa Claus Has Come’: Mamata Takes On Modi At Mega Birbhum Rally
The rally comes as a response to Home Minister Amit Shah’s rally at the same place, just 9 days ago.
Just days after Union Home Minister Amit Shah's rally at the same place, West Bengal Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee hit out at the BJP at a mega rally in Bolpur on 29 December.
In a massive padyatra replete with baul singers and folk dance, the chief minister marched as Trinamool MP from Birbhum and former actor, Satabdi Ray, marched alongside with a picture of Tagore.
Bolpur is the town of Nobel laureate and Bengali luminary Rabindranath Tagore and is home to the Visva Bharati University, founded by Tagore in 1921. Prime Minister Narendra Modi delivered a virtual address at the centenary celebrations of the university on 24 December.
Taking to the stage at the rally, the chief minister launched a fiery attack on both Modi-Shah and the BJP.
"There is a series of false promises everyday, and it seems like oh, Rabindranath is here, oh Santa Claus is here, oh Gandhiji is here," said Mamata, mocking Prime Minister Modi's new look. Modi's long, grey bearded look has many in Bengal drawing similarities between him and Tagore.
In the course of the speech, Mamata kept up the "outsider" moniker for the BJP, talking about how they're "destroying" Visva Bharati's culture and tradition. She also spoke about the farmers' protests, hate politics, and the money power that the BJP is likely to exercise before the elections.
‘Couldn't They Have Found Another Vice Chancellor?’
"Narrow politics has been played at Visva Bharati," began Mamata.
"They are coming for durbar once in a week, eating 5-star food, and showing that it is an adivasi household," she said, taking on Amit Shah who had lunch at an adivasi household on a visit to Bankura in November.
In his visit to Bolpur on 20 December, Shah lunched at the house of baul singer Basudeb Das who then went on to say that the home minister "did not give him time". Das was present at the chief minister's rally on Tuesday after the Trinamool offered him financial assistance.
"They have come to this sonar maati, golden land, and spread hate politics," Mamata continued.
She then went on to attack the Vice-Chancellor of Visva Bharati University, Bidyut Chakraborty, who has been at the centre of many controversies over the past year as the university saw instances of political violence.
"Could they have not found any other vice-chancellor for Visva Bharati? Could they have not found anybody except this man who has the BJP's stamp?" she asked.
“What do they do inside the VC chamber? Do I go to Calcutta University or Jadavpur or Presidency and do the same?” she added. “They have turned Visva Bharati into a place for riots.”
"I have ended my Bongo Dhwani Yatra at Robi Thakur's feet. That's because we can't imagine a Bengal without him," said Mamata, in a battle over Tagore's legacy that has now taken over Bengal politics.
‘Can Buy MLAs, But Not The TMC’
At the rally Mamata also addressed the recent defections from the TMC to the BJP, the most high-profile of them being that of former TMC Minister Suvendu Adhikari. Adhikari joined the BJP, along with 6 other TMC MLAs and 1 MP, at Amit Shah's rally in Midnapore on 19 December.
"Just by buying a few MLAs – and the most rotten ones – don't think you can buy the Trinamool Congress," said Mamata.
"It is not that easy. When Trinamool was born, it was a small baby. I had to protect it like a mother. It was a small plant that could've been eaten by cattle. Now the Trinamool is a banyan tree and we work day and night to keep it that way," she added to rapturous applause.
She also warned of the money that the BJP will be putting in with the elections around the corner.
"They will come offer you money. I say, keep the money and vote TMC. It is your money. It is the taxpayer's money," she said.
‘Win 30 Seats First’
Banerjee, furthering the "outsider" jibe at the BJP, said that the saffron party is now sending those who know "even a little Bengali" into the villages of Bengal.
"They are not from here. They are outsiders. And they will come to you and ask you to vote for the BJP. But they will not be successful. Let them win 30 seats first and then we will see about 294," she thundered.
She then went on to criticise how the Modi government is handling farmers' protests saying that the central government is only working for big corporations.
"In Punjab and Haryana, farmers are on protest for a month asking why this black law has been introduced. They are saying that farmers will not be able to sell their produce. That you will not be able to buy their produce," said Mamata.
"These are the people who are coming to conquer Bengal. Save Bengal from these invaders," she concluded.
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