War Of Words As Shah, Mamata Hold Competing Rallies In Bengal
While BJP’s Amit Shah held a rally in South 24 Paraganas district, CM Mamata Banerjee held a rally just 80 km away.
The political battleground in West Bengal, which will go to polls in a few weeks, saw temperatures rising as Bharatiya Janata Party leader and Union Home Minister Amit Shah, and Trinamool Congress supremo and state Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee, held competing rallies in the same district.
Shah, who is on a two-day visit to Bengal, flagged off the final leg of his party's Poriborton Rath Yatra from Namkhana in the South 24 Parganas district. Meanwhile, Banerjee held a workers' meet with the Trinamool cadre at Pailan in the same district, barely 80 kilometres away.
'BJP Will Fight Against Syndicate, Make Bengal Sonar Bangla': Amit Shah
Shah, who landed in Kolkata on the night of 17 February, had a busy next day. He began his day by visiting the Bharat Sevashram Sangha in Kolkata, where he addressed the seers and said that they had a great impact on his life.
Thereafter, he went to Gangasagar, an island in the South Parganas district where he enjoyed the sea waters by the beach before paying a visit to the ashram of Kapil Muni.
Next on the schedule was the inauguration of the Poriborton Yatra at Namkhana, where Shah addressed the public. During his speech, Shah made repeated attacks at Mamata Banerjee and her bhaipo (nephew) Abhishek Banerjee, with the focus being on "exposing" corrupt practices in the Trinamool.
“The Central government had sent relief funds after Amphan cyclone, but the money was siphoned off by TMC leaders. If voted to power, we will probe into this corruption. We will form a task force for saving lives from cyclones and environmental disasters", said Shah.
"The battle for a Sonar Bangla is the battle between the syndicate and our booth workers," he added.
In his last rally in Bengal, on 11 February, Shah had promised that his party would implement the Citizenship Amendment Act (CAA) after the vaccination drive for the coronavirus was over.
"This Parivartan Yatra is not for changing a chief minister, or a minister. It is for ending infiltration and transformation of Bengal. You vote for the BJP, leave alone illegal immigrants, not even a bird from across the border will be allowed to enter the state," said Shah, reiterating his attack on "infiltrators" in Bengal, who he's claimed, are sheltered by Mamata.
He also attacked the Chief Minister on her alleged aversion to "Hindu practices" like the chant 'Jai Shri Ram'. Shah even alleged that Mamata was against holding Durga Puja and Saraswati Puja in the state.
"Shouldn't Durga Puja take place in Bengal? Court permission needs to be obtained for it. Shouldn't Saraswati Puja take place? She had stopped it. Only after BJP's pressure she was seen worshipping Goddess Saraswati. Didi, Bengal knows that you stopped 'Saraswati pujan' in schools," Shah said.
During the course of his speech, Shah also made promises to school teachers, fisherfolk and women, if voted to power.
After flagging off the Yatra at Namkhana, Shah had lunch at the home of a Bangladeshi refugee family in the district.
This was followed by a roadshow in the same area and then a visit to the Aurobindo Bhawan in Kolkata.
'Defeat Abhishek First, Then Try To Come After Me': Mamata
At the Trinamool rally in Pailan, attended by Mamata and Abhishek Banerjee, the Chief Minister took on Shah's nepotism barb head-on, challenging him to defeat Abhishek first before "coming for her".
Abhishek Banerjee, seen as number two in the Trinamool, is a member of Parliament from the Diamond Harbour constituency in Bengal.
“A BJP neta came and went to Sagar Island. He accused us of not doing anything for the development of Ganga Sagar. Where was he all this while? Did they give one paisa for Ganga Sagar?” asked Mamata. “Every day he is saying “Didi and Bhatija”. I would like to challenge Amit Shah, first you contest against Abhishek Banerjee, then think about contesting against me. I would like to challenge him to bring his son (Jay Shah) to the fore and have a democratic contest,” she added.
"How come your son became a part of the cricket administration and made hundreds of crores of rupees?" Banerjee asked.
She also remarked on TMC Minister Jakir Hossain who was critically injured after being attacked with crude bombs in the state's Murshidabad district on 17 February.
"I think they will start the elections from Murshidabad or Malda. Jakir is a strong leader there, that's why they targeted him," she said, blaming the BJP for the attack.
Reacting to charges of corruption during Amphan, Mamata said that the TMC had "saved the lives of 10 lakh people".
"The Prime Minister did drama by coming here, but did not give any money to us," said Mamata.
"Ask Amit Shah to recite the Saraswati Puja mantra. Who is he to teach about Saraswati Puja?" she further asked.
"Their leaders are asking who is Maa Durga. They don't know Maa Durga and they want to do politics in Bengal."
West Bengal is slated to go to polls in April-May 2021, in what looks to be a battle between the incumbent Trinamool Congress and the BJP.
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