PM Modi’s Bengal poll pitch hinges on delivery of development, promise of change
Prime Minister Narendra Modi also reeled off data on the number of beneficiaries in West Bengal of Central government welfare programmes.Updated: Oct 22, 2020, 15:20 IST
Prime Minister Narendra Modi on Thursday, while addressing the people of West Bengal on Durga Sasthi, which marks the beginning of Durga Puja, virtually set the tone for BJP’s campaign for the crucial 2021 assembly elections in the state.
“The goal of Aatmanirbhar Bharat in the 21st century would be strengthened with the soil of Bengal,” Modi said, while quoting lines from Nobel Laureate Rabindranath Tagore’s poem.
The ruling Trinamool Congress is likely to face a tough challenge from the Bharatiya Janata Party in the coming polls. The BJP, which had made impressive gains in the state in the 2019 Lok Sabha polls by winning 18 of the 42 seats, has already given a call for a TMC-free Bengal in 2021.
The Prime Minister interspersed his praise for the people of Bengal with an inventory of the schemes piloted by the BJP-led centre and how they have helped the state.
“Houses have been built for at least three million poor people in Bengal under the Pradhan Mantri Awas Yojana. Nine lakh poor women have received free gas connections under Ujjwala Yojana. Bank accounts have been opened for at least 40 million poor people in Bengal under Jan Dhan Yojana. Also under Jal Jeevan Mission, pipelines for safe drinking water have been installed in at least five lakh households in Bengal,” he said.
The BJP has already decided not to project anyone as its chief ministerial candidate for the upcoming polls. Instead, the party had said that it would highlight the ‘achievements’ of the Modi-government to counter the ruling Trinamool Congress in the state.
Modi also said that Rs 8,500 crore have been sanctioned for Kolkata’s East - West Metro corridor and roads are being built to boost infrastructure between Nepal, Bangladesh and India.
“Our aim is that people of Bengal should face less hardships and their life becomes easier. The BJP led-union government has adopted a rising-east policy and a series of decisions have been taken for the development of eastern India. Bengal has to play an important role in this (reorientation) and become its centre,” he said, adding that efforts are being continuously made so that people of Bengal can avail the benefits of development and the state prospers.
The Prime Minister, in a bid to connect with the masses during the biggest festival of Bengal, started and ended his speech with a few lines in Bangla and took the freedom to frequently use words and Bengali phrases.
The BJP’s Bengal unit made elaborate arrangements for the live viewing of PM Modi’s virtual address. TV screens were put up in all the 78,000 election booth areas across the state. BJP karyakartas took part in a Durga Puja organised at Salt Lake, a satellite city of Kolkata.
Adding a word of caution, the Prime Minister urged people to follow all safety protocols such as wearing masks and maintaining distance from each other while organising the Durga Puja.