Banerjee accused Modi of unethically helping big industrialists, who she referred to as the Prime Minister’s friends.(ANI Photo )
Banerjee accused Modi of unethically helping big industrialists, who she referred to as the Prime Minister’s friends.(ANI Photo )

PM Modi promises ‘Sonar Bangla’

  • PM Modi’s plane arrived at Kolkata around 1.30pm and he flew to the Maidans in a chopper.
PUBLISHED ON MAR 08, 2021 02:56 AM IST

Promising a 25-year development plan for West Bengal if the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) wins the assembly polls, Prime Minister Narendra Modi on Sunday sharpened his attack on chief minister Mamata Banerjee at his first rally in Kolkata this year, accusing the Trinamool Congress (TMC) chief of getting blinded by the affection for her nephew Abhishek Banerjee and looting common people so much that her regime might have won had there been a corruption Olympics.

Taking on the TMC’s popular election slogan, ‘khela hobe’ (let’s play), Modi, during his 72-minute speech, said, “How long will the extortion and torture continue? People want an answer and they (TMC) are scared. That’s why they are talking about playing a game. They have played enough. There is no game left. Even ration sent by the Centre was stolen. I want to appeal to all people. Do not be afraid. Vote for the BJP without fear. End the anarchy. Victory for Bengal means victory for India.”

Brigade Parade Grounds, the venue of Modi’s rally in the Maidan area, witnessed a huge turnout as hundreds of thousands of people came from various districts in trains and buses withinnovative and colourful props. Modi’s plane arrived at Kolkata around 1.30pm and he flew to the Maidans in a chopper.

Modi’s speech focused on the BJP’s plans for Bengal’s development, corruption during the TMC regime, plight of women in the state during the last 10 years and, not surprisingly, the Left-Congress coalition that has triggered the possibility of a three-way split in votes in some districts. Modi did not mention cleric Abbasuddin Siddiqui’s Indian Secular Front, which is part of the third coalition.

While addressing a rally in north Bengal’s Siliguri town, about 570km away, Mamata Banerjee unleashed a more scathing counter attack around the same time. “I have never seen a Prime Minster lying so much. The only syndicate India has is the one run by Modi and Amit Shah. The Prime Minister talks of cut-money (illegal commission). A poor man may take 5 or 10 as cut-money. But what about selling national assets?” said Banerjee.

The TMC rally and roadshow was held in protest against the rise in prices of LPG. “I am giving free ration to all people but they have to buy LPG cylinders for 900 to cook their food. You have to provide LPG for free. Tell them when it will be provided free,” said Banerjee. Turning at the crowd she said, “Do not vote for the BJP till LPG comes free.”

Banerjee accused Modi of unethically helping big industrialists, who she referred to as the Prime Minister’s friends.

Modi shot back in Kolkata.

“The opposition says that I work for my friends. We all make friends in places where we grow up. I can feel the difficulties faced by my friends. I will always do so. I am working for my friends in Bengal. I have given my friends in Bengal 70 lakh homes and toilets. People working in the tea gardens are my special friends and for them the Union budget has allotted 1,000 crore,” said Modi.

Reciting a couple of lines from a Sanskrit scripture, Modi said, “When someone gets angry because of excessive affection, the person makes more mistakes and eventually loses everything.” He did not name Abhishek Banerjee whose wife and sister-in-law were recently questioned by the Central Bureau of Investigation in a coal smuggling case.

“Even I am not spared. Sometimes I am called Ravana, sometimes a demon and sometimes a ruffian. Why do you get so angry, Didi?” Modi said referring to some of the comments Banerjee made in recent rallies.

“The lotus is blooming because you (Banerjee) deprived the poor, kept the youth unemployed. I have known Didi for years. This is not the Didi who fought for Bengal. She is now being controlled by others. The remote control is in the hands of someone else,” said Modi.

“The whole of Bengal is now saying aar noi anyay (no more injustice, the BJP’s slogan). The entire nation needs to hear this. This is the voice of the Bengalis. The sons and daughters of Bengal are asking you questions after 10 years. They choose you to be their elder sister but you limited yourself to being the aunt of just one nephew. What about the millions of nephews and nieces. You could not escape from the same family politics that you spoke against,” said Modi.

Indirectly referring to the TMC’s official poll slogan, “Bengal wants its daughter”, Modi talked of last week’s incident when the chief minister escaped unhurt in a fall from an electric scooter that she rode in protest against the rise in fuel prices.

He said, “You are not the daughter of Bengal only. You are the nation’s daughter. When you rode the scooty, everybody prayed that you do not fall. Thank God you did not because if you did, the state where the scooty was made would have become your enemy. However, instead of going to Bhawanipore, your scooty went to Nandigram. I do not want to see anyone getting hurt but what can I do if the scooty has decided to fall in Nandigram?”

He talked of bringing in “asol poribarton” (real change) and building “Sonar Bangla” or golden Bengal.

“You (the people) trusted Mamata Banerjee. But she and her cadres destroyed your dreams. They broke your trust. They insulted the people of Bengal. They tortured our sisters and daughters but could never destroy their hopes. This crowd is the living proof of that hope. Bengal wants sonar Bangla, they want peace, progress and prosperity,” said Modi.

“We will build a Bengal where infiltrators will not find any place. People know what Bengal has lost since Independence. I have come with the determination to announce that whatever has been robbed from here will be returned. The next 25 years are crucial for Bengal. The coming polls will launch the first phase. The next five years are important. In 2047, when India will celebrate its 100th year of Independence, Bengal will once again lead other states as it did in the past,” said Modi.

“Kolkata is the city of joy. It has the legacy and the possibility of a great future. There is no way it cannot be made the city of the future. A few days ago, a list of top cities was published. People want to see Kolkata in that position. Once you have the double engine government (the BJP at both the state and the Centre) all obstacles will disappear. Because of corruption, a lot of work has been stalled,” Modi said.

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