BJP as venomous as cobra, says Banerjee as rhetoric sharpens in Bengal
- Banerjee's comments came while addressing a Trinamool Congress (TMC) rally in Purulia district.
Sharp rhetoric at back-to-back rallies and sporadic violence marked the rising aggressiveness in Bengal politics on Tuesday, a day after chief minister Mamata Banerjee announced that she will contest the Nandigram seat in the coming assembly elections against her aide-turned adversary Suvendu Adhikari who joined the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) in December.
While addressing a Trinamool Congress (TMC) rally in Purulia district, Banerjee compared the BJP to a cobra and said, “The BJP is so venomous that it can kill you with only one bite. They are more dangerous than the Maoists.”
“The BJP fooled you with false promises and won the Purulia Lok Sabha seat in 2019. But it has done nothing for the district. Now its leaders are visiting the homes of Dalits and having food brought from hotels. Have you ever seen a Dalit buying a bottle of mineral water that costs ₹100? People of Purulia will never surrender to outsiders,” said Banerjee and announced a number of welfare schemes.
“There will be more hotels and markets in Purulia. Tourism will flourish. There will be so many jobs that people won’t have to leave the district for employment,” said Banerjee before raising slogans against the new citizenship law, National Register of Citizens and the National Population Register.
BJP was quick to react. "By comparing the BJP with a cobra the chief minister has made it clear that she is extremely worried about her imminent defeat. She is talking metaphorically about perils humans face because she cannot fight her fears," Bengal BJP vice-president Jay Prakash Majumdar told HT.
To counter Banerjee’s Monday rally in East Midnapore district’s Nandigram, the constituency he represented till his resignation from the assembly last month, Adhikari held a rally in the Khejuri area of Nandigram on Tuesday.
Delivering a vitriolic speech, Adhikari said, “Banerjee’s rally on Monday appeared to be one held by the Hyderabad-based All India Majlis-e-Ittehad-ul-Muslimeen (AIMIM) led by Asaduddin Owaisi. She sounded confused and disappointed.”
Without naming any community, Adhikari said, “Can she win the Nandigram seat with those 62,000 votes? I know those villages. We will win with the support of 2,13,000 voters for whom Jai Sri Ram is the clarion call. We will not let Mamata Banerjee contest from Bhawanipore (in Kolkata) as well. She has to contest from Nandigram only and she will lose.”
Naming the TMC workers who died in the violent land movement in Nandigram during the Left Front rule, Adhikari said, “Yesterday the chief minister was reading out the names from a piece of paper and still made a mistake. I know all the names by heart. The families of 30 martyrs are present here today. Banerjee talks of Nandigram but she did not include the land movement in the state’s school syllabus although the movement at Singur found its place.”
The TMC-led movement against acquisition of farmland for a chemical hub at Nandigram witnessed unprecedented violence in the last years of the Left Front government and helped Banerjee come to power in 2011. A similar role was played by the prolonged agitation she led against the proposed Tata small car plant at Singur in Hooghly district.
While Adhikari’s rally was on, there were clashes between TMC and BJP workers at several places in Khejuri where TMC leader and former minister Madan Mitra also held a rally.
Rapid Action Force had to be deployed to disperse workers of the two parties. Several people were injured, alleged Adhikari. He said he will start an agitation on Monday if the culprits are not arrested by then. Local TMC leader Ramkrishna Das denied the charge, saying BJP workers attacked supporters of the ruling party.
On Tuesday, Adhikari mentioned the chief minister’s nephew Abhishek Banerjee by the latter’s name instead of calling him bhaipo (nephew in Bengali). “The award for being the biggest extortionist will go to Abhishek Banerjee,” said the former transport minister.
BJP leaders said their supporters were also attacked at Joynagar in South 24 Parganas and Purbasthali in East Burdwan district on Tuesday night. No death was however reported from anywhere.
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- The opposition leader is also scheduled to meet senior TMC minister Firhad Hakim and hold talks about the upcoming Bengal polls.
- TMC and BJP have dismissed the Left rally as insignificant. While the TMC claims CM Mamata Banerjee will return to power for the third time, BJP says the elections are bi-polar and there is no space for the Left.
- The BJP lodged a complaint in the Phoolbagan police station. Senior BJP leaders of the state rushed to the spot to take stock of the situation.
- The TMC asked the EC why the polls could not be held in fewer phases.
- She alleged that the poll panel scheduled the election dates keeping in mind the BJP’s demands.
- The CBI earlier questioned Bengal chief minister Mamata Banerjee’s nephew and Trinamool Congress (TMC) MP Abhishek Banerjee’s wife Rujira Banerjee in the case.
- Besides rallies, the chief minister’s itinerary could include religious stopovers at important places of worship.
- "Modi government only makes false promises, has done nothing to bring down fuel prices," PTI quoted the Bengal chief minister as saying.