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Wednesday, Sep 18, 2019

In BJP’s big Bengal push, PM attacks Didi, says back citizenship bill

PM Modi accused West Bengal Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee of resorting to violence against her political opponents.

india Updated: Feb 02, 2019 16:30 IST
HT Correspondent
HT Correspondent
Hindustan Times, Thakurnagar, West Bengal
Addressing a public rally at Thakurnagar in 24 North Parganas district of West Bengal, PM Modi attacked Mamata Banerjee .
Addressing a public rally at Thakurnagar in 24 North Parganas district of West Bengal, PM Modi attacked Mamata Banerjee .(HT Photo/Avijit Ghosal)

Prime Minister Narendra Modi hit out at West Bengal Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee on Saturday over alleged attacks on the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) workers in the state while seeking support of her Trinamool Congress (TMC) party for the Citizenship Amendment Bill that seeks to grant citizenship to non-Muslim refugees from Bangladesh, Pakistan and Afghanistan.

Addressing a public rally at Thakurnagar in 24 North Parganas district of West Bengal, PM Modi attacked Mamata Banerjee saying, “she is resorting to violence” against her political opponents. “Looking at the response from the people here (Thakurnagar), I now understand why Didi is resorting to violence,” said PM Modi.

The prime minister, however, sought support from the TMC for the citizenship bill, which is pending in Parliament. The bill has bene passed by the Lok Sabha and requires approval of the Rajya Sabha during the ongoing budget session. If the bill does not a nod from the Rajya Sabha, it will lapse when the tenure of the current Lok Sabha ends. The TMC has opposed the citizenship bill calling it “discriminatory”.

“We have brought the citizenship bill for people who had to flee their own country following religious persecution. They have come to India. Shouldn’t they get citizenship here? I ask TMC people to support the citizenship bill in Parliament,” PM Modi said.

Thakurnagar and the neighbouring areas have a sizeable population of Matua community, who migrated to West Bengal from erstwhile East Bengal in various phases during 1950s. They are said to be influential in five to six Lok Sabha constituencies in West Bengal, particularly in 24 North and South Parganas districts.

Thakurnagar is located in the border district of North 24 Parganas . The rally was being seen as BJP’s outreach to Matua community. The TMC has good support base among the Matuas, whose estimated population is about 30 lakh in West Bengal. TMC MP Mamata Thakur is an influential leader of the community.

Modi’s rally was organised by the BJP in collaboration of the All India Matua Mahasangha, whose leaders including Shantanu Thakur and Chhabi Rani Thakur were present on the dias with the prime minister. BJP leaders Kailash Vijayvargiya, party’s general secretary in-charge of West Bengal, and Mukul Roy were among those who attended PM Modi’s rally.

The prime minister also spoke about the schemes rolled out in Friday’s interim budget asserting that the “small and marginal farmers were brought in the focus for the first time in history” through PM Kisan, which provides for an annual cash support of Rs 6,000 to them.

PM Modi slammed the Congress for “seeking votes by promising farm loan waivers” in the assembly elections held last year. He said, “Votes were sought by promising loan waivers. But farmers who took loans are not getting the waiver. Loans are being waived off of the farmers, who did not take any loan.”

“A farmer in Madhya Pradesh received loan waiver of Rs 13. In Rajasthan, the government is saying that they did not know that loan waiver would put so much of burden. In Karnataka, the government is using police against farmers seeking loan waivers. This is the Congress’s policy towards farmers and agriculture. And, the TMC government supports them,” PM Modi said.

He said the central government’s scheme ensures that farmers get the cash transferred directly in their bank accounts without “giving a syndicate tax”, a reference often used by PM Modi to target the Mamata Banerjee government in West Bengal.

First Published: Feb 02, 2019 13:11 IST