Amit Shah and Mamata's rallies leave North Bengal politically charged
North Bengal witnessed a politically charged day with BJP national president Amit Shah launching BJP's Mission Bengal, or 'booth chalo' programme from the small village of Naxalbari where the violent Naxal uprising had begun in the 1960s.
"I want you to shout so loudly that it can be heard in Kolkata," the BJP chief said, talking of how there would be no sign of Mamata Banerjee's All India Trinamool Congress in West Bengal by 2019. “We are confident that in 2019, BJP will increase their seats in the state and we will rule West Bengal.”
Mamata also addressed a rally at Coochbehar in North Bengal where she urged the people to not support the BJP because of their communal agenda.
'Let the lotus bloom'
From Naxalbari, Shah started the BJP’s campaign 'Sabka Saath, Sabka Vikas' and his message steadfastly remained that "AITC is worse than CPI(M)".
He went all out slamming the Trinamool Congress for corruption and lack of development. “In the Narada sting operation and Sarada chit fund scam, AITC is now over head and shoulder. You must throw out this party from power,” Shah said.
Shah, who is on a three-day tour in Bengal visited around 35 households in the Naxalbari area as a part of the 'booth chalo' programme. Shah lunched at the house of Sadhana Mondal, the BJP Panchyat Sabadhaipati of Naxalbari.
Imnakalyan Lahiri, a political analyst and professor of International Relations at Jadavpur University said, “Naxalbari, which has been inhabited by tribals, had long been a stronghold of the Left. Although AITC has gathered much support after the Left rule in Bengal, the BJP got a healthy 20% vote share in the 2016 assembly elections. That is very likely why the BJP has started the campaign to drive AITC out of the state."
Charges and counter charges
Banerjee criticised Shah's visit to Naxalbari: "The secret understanding between CPI(M) and BJP is clear as Shah chose Naxalbari to address the party workers. CPI(M) is trying to give fuel to BJP for strengthening their base. But Bengal's people will not allow any party to divide Bengal on communal lines."
She criticised the BJP government for planning to start a Unique Identification for cows, and mockingly said " Now they (BJP) will start Unique Identification for other animals and a time will come when they will set up Unique Identification for all products that people use."
Even as Shah, when he visited Siliguri in the evening, spoke of how AITC will bring ruin to the state and make the poor even poorer, Banerjee assured the people of Coochbehar that they will set up an industrial cluster consisting of small and medium scale enterprise at Chak Chak in Coochbehar.
She hit out at the Centre for depriving the state of funds. “Centre is yet to give us Rs 40,000 crore which was due to the state on account of several ongoing schemes, but we have still been able to carry out our projects in the state,” she said.
Shah contradicted this fact in his speech and spoke of how central funds given to Bengal have not been utilised correctly. Adding how the BJP is being blocked in pushing out various schemes such as the Pradhan Mantri Gram Sadak Yojana, Start Up India, Swachh Bharat Abhiyan and Beti Bachao Beti Padhao, he said that AITC is not letting the common people benefit.
He even alleged that the state, which has been a lot of factories shut down recently, is witnessing a mushrooming of bomb-making factories and fake currency.