BJP launches its Parivartan Yatra in Bengal
Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) chief JP Nadda on Saturday flagged off the party’s ‘Parivartan Yatra’ in poll-bound West Bengal, launching a political onslaught against the Mamata Banerjee-led Trinamool Congress a day before Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s first public rally in the state.
Ahead of the assembly elections in West Bengal, the BJP will hold five such yatras that will each include a “rath”. After Saturday’s event, four more “Parivartan Yatras” will be held, with the last one likely to be flagged off by Union home minister Amit Shah. The yatras will likely conclude in Kolkata, where PM Modi is likely to address a rally in March, according to people aware of the developments. The yatras are expected to cover all 294 assembly constituencies through February and March, they added.
“The Parivartan Yatra starts from here. It is not just the parivartan of the government but the parivartan of thinking. Mamata Banerjee came to power a decade ago with the slogan Ma Mati Manush (Mother, People and Soil). But down the line, the mother was looted, the people weren’t protected and the soil was disrespected,” Nadda said as he participated in Saturday’s event.
“Why is she against Jai Shri Ram? This says that they keep politics above culture. They won’t protect the culture,” he added. Banerjee recently declined to speak at an event to mark Netaji Subhas Chandra Bose’s 124th birth anniversary where “Jai Shri Ram” slogans were raised in the presence of Prime Minister Narendra Modi at Kolkata’s Victoria Memorial on January 23.
Nadda accused the Trinamool Congress-led state government of politicising the administration, criminalising police and institutionalising corruption. “Jai Shri Ram” slogans greeted the leader during his day-long trip to the election-bound state.
The ruling Trinamool Congress, meanwhile, organised a motorcycle rally in three assembly constituencies in Nadia-Chapra, Krishnanagar Uttar and Krishnanagar Dakshin around the same time as the BJP yatra. However, no run-ins were reported between the two parties, according to officials. The Trinamool’s motorcycle rally was named “Janasamarthan Yatra”.
“Around 5,000 two-wheelers took part in the rallies in three constituencies. There were no untoward incidents, and everything went off peacefully. As it is a two-day rally, it will be again brought out on Sunday,” said state minister Ujjwal Biswas.
Addressing a rally before flagging of the “Parivartan Yatra” at Nabadwip, the birthplace of Bengal’s 15th Century iconic saint Chaitanya Mahaprabhu, Nadda said that only the ruling Trinamool leaders benefited under Mamata Banerjee’s rule and even funds meant for relief in the aftermath of Cyclone Amphan and the Covid-19 crisis were misappropriated.
In December last year, Nadda’s convoy was attacked near Diamond Harbour, the parliamentary constituency of Trinamool Congress MP Abhishek Banerjee, who is also the West Bengal chief minister’s nephew.
“This government has to go. If they can attack me, then I can understand what the common people are going through in West Bengal,” Nadda said.
“Mamata stood as a barrier and deprived people from getting benefits of the Ayushman Bharat. Now Mamata will go and the people will get the direct benefits of Ayushman Bharat,” he added.
The Trinamool Congress hit back, saying that local BJP leaders were misleading Nadda and that he was raising baseless allegations.
“The TMC will hold a public rally at Nabadwip on Sunday. Every allegation will be countered. The crowd that was seen at Nadda’s rath yatra is usually seen at a block level meeting of the TMC,” said Kunal Ghosh, TMC spokesperson.
A senior police official told PTI that while permission was granted for the BJP’s public rally, a public interest litigation was pending with the Calcutta high court against a “Rath Yatra”.
The BJP has previously said it did not plan a “Rath Yatra” but a “Parivartan Yatra” in the state.
(With PTI inputs)