Assembly election 2021: BJP unveils Bengal manifesto after PM Modi, Shah hit campaign trail; Priyanka holds rallies in Assam
The ruling Trinamool Congress in West Bengal was hit by another resignation on Sunday, as Sisir Adhikari followed in his son's footsteps to join the BJP. His son, Suvendu, joined the BJP a few months ago
With the West Bengal and Assam Assembly elections just days away, Prime Minister Narendra Modi, Home Minister Amit Shah and Congress leader Priyanka Gandhi Vadra all hit the campaign trail on Sunday.
Meanwhile, the BJP also released its manifesto for the West Bengal polls, where it is seeking to build on gains made in 2019's Lok Sabha election to unseat Mamata Banerjee from the chief minister's chair.
In its manifesto unveiled by Amit Shah, the BJP has vowed to build a 'Sonar Bangla' by "providing employment, strengthening social security schemes and vowing to clear the implementation of the Citizenship Amendment Act in the first Cabinet meeting of the new government".
We promise -
A safe Bengal
An appeasement-free Bengal
An infiltration-free Bengal
We will bring back the Bengal that made the entire nation proud.
- Shri @AmitShah
— BJP (@BJP4India) March 21, 2021
Prime Minister Narendra Modi canvassed for the saffron party in Bankura in West Bengal and Bokakhat in Assam.
Shah addressed a rally in Assam's Egra town.
Meanwhile, Congress leader Priyanka Gandhi also addressed three rallies in Assam.
— Congress (@INCIndia) March 21, 2021
The ruling Trinamool Congress in West Bengal was hit by another resignation on Sunday as Sisir Adhikari followed in his son Suvendu's footsteps to join the BJP.
Reacting to the development, Mamata said that she regretted not recognising the "true face of the Adhikari family".
Suvendu is pitted against Mamata in the Nandigram Assembly seat. The poll race between the former mentor and aide is being closely watched.
BJP's Bengal manifesto vows one job per family, CAA implementation
Unveiling the "Sonar Bangla Sankalpa Patra" at EZCC in Salt Lake, Amit Shah said that BJP will ensure the implementation of the Ayushman Bharat healthcare scheme and the PM-Kisan programme in the state, in addition to giving at least one job per family.
Stating that the party will provide arrears of Rs 18,000 to 75 lakh farmers of the state under PM-Kisan, the BJP also promised Rs 10,000 per year to them, if voted to power. Of this, Rs 6,000 will be contributed contributed by the Centre and the rest by the state government.
The party also announced a Rs 5,000 crore intervention fund to assure farmers' economic security, besides accidental insurance worth Rs 3 lakh for small farmers and fishermen. In the manifesto, the party promised a Sonar Bangla fund worth Rs 11,000 crore to promote art, literature and other such sectors, and a Tagore Prize on the lines of the Nobel Prize.
The BJP also promised seventh pay commission implementation for state government employees and 30 percent reservation for women in state government jobs.
Reiterating the party's poll plank of eradicating "infiltration" in the state, the BJP promised the "strictest border security".
"We have decided that we will clear the implementation of the Citizenship Amendment Act in the first cabinet meeting itself, besides approving the Ayushman Bharat scheme for the benefit of the poor," Shah said.
The party further promised that every refugee family will be given Rs 10,000 per year for five years through direct benefit transfer (DBT).
Shah said that his party would work towards building a safe Bengal, an "appeasement-free Bengal" and an infiltration-free state, if voted to power.
The party also promised free "kindergarten to post-graduation" education for all women and free travel for them in public transport. It promised to build new AIIMS in North Bengal, Jungle Mahal and Sunderban regions, besides toilets and clean drinking water for every family.
Shah said that when the BJP forms the government in West Bengal, people will not have to go to court for organising Durga Puja and Saraswati Puja.
"Bengal has turned into one of the most unsafe states for women. Inaction for years has broken the dreams of the youth and has stopped the flow of employment. In the last 10 years, TMC's ill-governance has started a dark chapter in Bengal's history," he alleged.
In the poll manifesto, the party also promised a Rs 20,000 crore Ishwar Chandra Vidyasagar Fund for the infrastructure development of schools, and five universities at par with IITs and IIMs.
The party said that to transform Kolkata into an international city, it will set up a Kolkata Development Fund worth Rs 22,000 crore and also ensure that the metropolis becomes a UNESCO Heritage City.
"We will bring back the Bengal that made the entire nation proud," he said. "You have given time to Congress, over 30 years to Communists and ten years to TMC. Give us five years to build a Sonar Bangla," he said, urging the people to vote for the BJP.
'Mamata questioning EVMs because she anticipates defeat'
Modi said that Mamata is "anticipating defeat in election, which is why she has already started questioning the functioning of EVMs".
"However, these EVMs had brought her to power 10 years ago," the prime minister quipped.
Banerjee has been calling on party workers to keep an eye on EVM machines fearing tampering of the machines.
He claimed that wall posters put up by TMC displayed Mamata kicking at his head. "I always bow my head in the service of 130 crore people of the country, Didi can put her leg on my head and kick it but I will not allow her to kick the dreams of Bengal's people," he said.
Modi claimed that since scams could not be done in Ayushman Bharat, PM-Kisan and direct benefit transfer schemes of the Centre, the TMC government here did not implement these in West Bengal.
"BJP runs on schemes, the TMC runs on scams," he said.
Meanwhile, in Assam, Modi targeted the Congress and accused it of being a "loot machine", which is desperate to come to power in Assam "at any cost" to fill its "empty coffers."
The Congress can go to any extent for coming to power and this is evident from the "lies" that they are spreading through their manifesto and the alliances they are entering to gain power, Modi said in a rally in Bokakhat in Assam's Golaghat district.
"When there was a Congress government at the Centre and the state at the same time, there was double neglect, double corruption and double infiltration", he alleged.
"The Congress is now giving guarantees...their manifesto is guarantees of lies, of confusion, instability, 'bomb, bandook aur blockade' (bomb, guns and blockades), insurgency and separatism, corruption and nepotism", Modi said.
"In Assam, Kerala and West Bengal, the Congress has entered into alliances with the communal forces as they cannot look beyond power and they claim to be secular. Nobody in the country now believes them", he alleged.
Congress has a tie-up with Badruddin Ajmal's AIUDF in Assam, while in Bengal it has joined hands with the Left and Indian Secular Front led by Muslim cleric Abbas Siddiqui. In Kerala, its partner is the Indian Union of Muslim League.
'Modi silent about condition of flood-hit people in Assam'
Launching an attack on Modi, Congress leader Priyanka Gandhi Vadra on Sunday alleged he is sad about a tweet by a 22-year-old woman but not for the flood-ravaged people of Assam.
Priyanka addressed rallies in the state's Nazira, Jorhat, and Khumtari Assembly constituencies.
A day after Modi referred to the toolkit case and alleged a conspiracy by the Congress at a poll rally in Chabua in Assam, Priyanka accused the prime minister of being "silent about people suffering during perennial floods".
Last year's flooding of the Brahmaputra during the pandemic affected some 2.8 million people.
"I was listening to the Prime Minister's speech yesterday. He very seriously said that he was very sad about a development. I thought he would speak about Assam's development or how BJP worked in Assam. But I was shocked to hear that the prime minister was talking about a tweet by a 22-year-old woman. He said Congress conspired to finish the tea industry of Assam. He was also sad about Congress mistakenly putting two wrong pictures on social media," Vadra said.
During his speech on Saturday, the prime minister made an oblique reference to Swedish environmentalist Greta Thunberg's toolkit on the farmers' protest, which outlined ways in which people can participate in the farmers protest.
One of the points reportedly mentioned there was to "disrupt yoga and chai image of India in general", PTI reported.
Vadra also questioned Modi why he was not sad for the people affected by the flood and the anti-CAA movement, in which five youths were killed.
"Why didn't you come to Assam when people were drowning? Why were you not sad when all the big promises by BJP were not fulfilled? Did you go to tea gardens and talk to workers about their problems?" the Congress leader asked of Modi.
The Congress leader also alleged that all segments of the society, including the youth, farmers and tea garden workers, have been cheated by the BJP government as it did not fulfil any of its promises made five years ago.
'BJP will ensure Durga, Saraswati puja held without hindrance'
Asserting that the BJP does not believe in vote-bank politics, Shah, in a jibe at the TMC over its "appeasement policies", said on Sunday that his party, if voted to power in Bengal, will ensure no curb is imposed on Durga and Saraswati puja.
During a rally in Egra in West Bengal's Purba Medinipur district, Shah claimed, "Under the TMC rule, school teachers in Bengal were beaten up for organising 'saraswati puja'. The court had to intervene to ensure Durga puja is celebrated in the state. Do you want this government?
"The BJP, after coming to power, will see to it that Durga puja and Saraswati puja are held without hindrance. No one will be stopped from organising any religious festival," the home minister stated.
He accused the Mamata Banerjee government of "encouraging infiltration" in Bengal.
Belittling Banerjee's monthly compensation promise of Rs 500 for every underprivileged person in the general category, Shah also sought to know if TMC leaders will seek "cut-money or commission" from the beneficiaries.
Shah also said that his party, if voted to power in the state, will implement the seventh pay commission, "as we know this has been a long-standing demand of state government employees here."
"Our government will give farmers Rs 10,000 every year, in addition to the funds provided by the Centre. Also, fishermen will be given Rs 6,000 each. People will get health insurance up to Rs 5 lakh under the Ayushman Bharat scheme," Shah added.
With inputs from PTI
Election Results 2021: Mamata powers TMC to win Bengal for third term, BJP returns in Assam and LDF in Kerala
Though counting of results are still underway in several constituencies, West Bengal, Assam and Kerala were set to beat anti-incumbency, trends showed. Opposition parties are headed for comfortable wins in Tamil Nadu and Puducherry
West Bengal Assembly election 2021, Mamata Banerjee profile: TMC supremo loses fiercely fought battle against Suvendu Adhikari
While Adhikari bagged 1,10,764 votes, Banerjee, his one-time mentor, netted 1,08,808 votes, according to the Election Commission.
West Bengal Assembly election 2021, Suvendu Adhikari profile: TMC turncoat defeats former mentor Mamata Banerjee in Nandigram
His political journey started in 1995 when he was elected as a councillor from Indian National Congress in the Contai Municipality