Armed with data, TMC counters Shah’s claims on BJP workers’ killings
A day after Union home minister Amit Shah welcomed seven Trinamool Congress (TMC) MLAs, including Suvendu Adhikari and three MLAs from other parties into the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) at a rally in Midnapore, the TMC on Sunday hit back with what it called a fact sheet. Shah, at the rally, brought several charges against the ruling party and the state government.
TMC leader in the Rajya Sabha, Derek O’Brien, circulated data on social media to counter Shah’s claims. Shah’s Sunday visit to Visva Bharati, Bengal’s only Central university that was set up by Rabindranath Tagore, was also criticized by the TMC and Left student unions.
“Shah claimed on Saturday that 300 BJP workers have been killed in Bengal in one and a half years. This is a lie. Many BJP workers are being killed in faction feuds. Even suicides are being passed off as political killings. Fact is that since 1998, 1,027 TMC workers have been killed. It is also on record that 116 BJP Lok Sabha members have criminal record,” said senior TMC leader and panchayat minister Subrata Mukherjee.
On Saturday, Shah defended Adhikari who was branded by the TMC as a traitor. “Didi (Mamata Banerjee) didn’t you leave the Congress and came to the TMC? Wasn’t it changing allegiance?” Shah said.
“Mamata Banerjee did not leave the Congress to join another party. If a Union Minister tried to sell off the history of our country one needs to protest. Banerjee was not a defector. She set up the TMC, a new party, in 1998,” said Mukherjee.
“Shah also claimed that people in Bengal do not get benefits under the Centre’s Ayushmann Bharat healthcare scheme. He does not know the facts. Banerjee started the Swasthya Sathi programme two years before Ayushmann Bharat was launched. Under this scheme, 1.4 crore families have been provided health insurance that covers expenses up to Rs 5 lakh per annum,” said Mukherjee.
“Shah claimed that farmers in Bengal are deprived of Rs 6,000 per annum under the Prime Minister’s central scheme. Reality is that Bengal provides farmers annual assistance of Rs 5,000 per acre under the Krishak Bandhu programme. The Central scheme provides only Rs 1,214 per acre. Also, the Bengal government pays full insurance premium under Sasya Bima whereas the Centre takes part of premium from farmers,” said Mukherjee.
“Shah had food at a villager’s home on Saturday and said the house was provided under the Prime Minister Awas Yojna scheme. This is another false claim,” said Mukherjee.
“The Centre pays 60 per cent of the money under this scheme while the state pays the rest. Between 2011-2020, the state has built 33,87,000 houses costing Rs 39,993 crore. Under the state’s own Geetanjali Prakalpa, 3,90,000 houses were built at an expense of Rs 3,550 crore. Under the ‘Housing for All’ scheme, 4,30,000 houses were built. This cost the state exchequer another Rs 7,000 crore,” said Mukherjee.
The TMC also countered Shah’s claim that Prime Minister Narendra Modi had sent food grains for people of Bengal and it was misappropriated by TMC workers. “Reality is that under Bengal’s Khadya Sathi programme, around 10 crore people will be provided free ration till June 2021. No government in the country has ever done this. This is an all-time record,” said Mukherjee.
During the day, chief minister Mamata Banerjee condemned the Centre’s move to send three Indian Police Service officers to other states. These officers were in charge of the security of BJP national president JP Nadda’s convoy that was stoned in South 24 Parganas district on December 10.
TMC leaders said chief ministers from non-BJP-ruled states have called up Banerjee and expressed their solidarity on this issue.
“Centre is brazenly interfering with State Govt functioning by transferring police officers. My gratitude to @bhupeshbaghel @ArvindKejriwal @capt_amarinder @ashokgehlot51 & @mkstalin for showing solidarity to people of Bengal & reaffirming their commitment to federalism. Thank you!” tweeted Mamata Banerjee on Sunday.
On Sunday, Shah’s visit to Visva Bharati was also criticized by the TMC.
TMC leaders in Kolkata staged a protest against placards, with images of Shah placed above Tagore, that were found all over Bolpur town on Friday. This triggered a strong reaction among residents. Claiming that the TMC had put up the placards to sabotage Shah’s visit, BJP workers quickly removed them.
The TMC set up a podium outside the Tagore family’s palatial home at Jorasanko in north Kolkata and staged a protest. “The placards demeaned Tagore’s rich heritage,” said Mukherjee.
The Students Federation of India, the students’ wing of the CPI(M), alleged that students who opposed Shah’s visit to Visva Bharati were pressured by the university authorities to withdraw the agitation.
“When the students refused to comply, the police put two student leaders under house arrest. SFI condemns this. We have always fought against saffronisation of educational spaces,” said SFI national general secretary Mayukh Biswas.
An official from the Santiniketan police station said the police took no such action.