West Bengal Assembly election 2021: 'Poribortan in Delhi, not Bengal', Mamata takes aim at PM Modi in Siliguri rally
While the saffron party is bolstered by the 2019 Lok Sabha polls and the stream of top TMC leaders seeking to join it, the TMC has tried to show Mamata as 'Bengal's own daughter' and the BJP as 'outsiders'
A defiant West Bengal chief minister Mamata Banerjee on Sunday challenged the BJP to fight her "one-on-one" in the upcoming Assembly polls, and contended that the 'poribortan' (change) will "not happen in West Bengal, but in Delhi."
Banerjee, who led a protest march in the Siliguri district against the LPG price hike on Sunday, was responding to taunts made by Prime Minister Narendra Modi in his rally in Kolkata earlier in the day.
Mamata was joined on the protest march by West Bengal minister Chandrima Bhattacharya and TMC MPs Mimi Chakraborty and Nusrat Jahan, reports said.
BJP is looting people by regularly hiking LPG prices. Women have been hit the hardest & I’m disgusted at Centre’s lack of intent to cut taxes & lessen their burden. In protest, today I’ll be leading an all women michil at Siliguri.
REDUCE LPG PRICES NOW! #IndiaAgainstLPGLoot
— Mamata Banerjee (@MamataOfficial) March 7, 2021
The BJP and ruling TMC are running a feverish battle for power in West Bengal.
While the saffron party is bolstered by the gains made in the 2019 Lok Sabha polls and the stream of top TMC leaders seeking to join it, the TMC has tried to shape the narrative to show Mamata as "Bengal's own daughter" and the BJP as "outsiders".
In his rally on Sunday, Modi said that the BJP will bring "ashol poribortan" (real change) in the state if it wins the polls. The call for 'poribartan' was first given by the TMC during 2011 Assembly polls, as it sought to end the 34-year Left rule.
However, Mamata rebutted the prime minister's statement and said that the change will only be in Delhi. "The prime minister says there will be poriborton in Bengal. There won’t be any change in Bengal and Trinamool Congress will continue in the state. There will be a poriborton in Delhi. You will have to go,” she said.
She also countered the BJP's oft-used allegation of corruption and nepotism against her and the TMC.
Accusing Modi and Union Home Minister Amit Shah of being "big-time extortionists", she sought to know how much money has been accrued through the disinvestment of public sector units. She added that the Modi-Shah regime was "helming a syndicate", and money "changed hands freely under their watch".
Accusing the prime minister of "peddling lies to mislead the voters" in the poll-bound state, the chief minister demanded an explanation from Modi for not depositing Rs 15 lakh in the bank accounts of every citizen, as "promised by him" before the 2014 Lok Sabha polls.
"How much money has been accrued by selling rail, Air India and Coal India Ltd? Before elections, it is Ujjwala and post polls it turns into 'jumla'. How much money changed hands during the corrupt practises under Ujjwala Yojana? The entire country knows about the Modi-Shah syndicate," Banerjee said, countering the BJP's allegations that her dispensation has institutionalised a "cut-money culture" in the state.
Crude oil prices have dipped all over the world, but in India fuel rates have touched the roof, the TMC supremo noted.
"You have made many empty promises. People will not accept your falsehood every day. We demand you make LPG cylinder affordable for every citizen of the country. You have made LPG cylinders inaccessible for the common man," Banerjee stated during her address.
Listing her government's achievements in Bengal, she said, "The state has undertaken several development projects, built metal roads connecting major thoroughfares. The Centre, on its part, has done nothing."
Referring to Modi's dig at her over TMC's 'Khela Hobe' poll slogan, she said, "It means we are ready for your challenges. And we are... A game (khela hobe) will be played before the elections. I am open to face-to-face debates."
Referring to her nephew, Abhishek Banerjee, Modi had accused Mamata of "betraying" the people of the state who "trusted" that she will bring about a change after the Left rule.
"Bengal chose you in role of 'didi' (elder sister) but you preferred being 'bua' (aunt) to your 'bhatija' (nephew Abhishek Banerjee)," he had said.
Claiming that Modi addressed "an empty ground" in Kolkata, Banerjee said, "When Modi starts delivering his address in programmes like 'Mann Ke Baat', people feel scared that he will put them in trouble by announcing another anti-people move, like the 2016 demonetisation."
Mamata also rebutted Modi's claim that crimes against women are on the rise in the state, and said, "He has little idea about the ground situation. In Bengal, women can move around freely at 10 pm, unlike Uttar Pradesh or Madhya Pradesh (both BJP-ruled states)."
She insisted that the saffron party knew nothing about Bengal and its culture.
"Your party had vandalised Vidyasagar's bust. Your party dishonoured Birsa Munda. Your party wrongly said Rabindranath Tagore was born in Santiniketan. This shows your depth of knowledge about Bengal and its culture," she said.
Asking everyone to raise their voice against the "riot-mongering BJP," Banerjee said, "People of Bengal, who had been living in peace casting aside barriers of community and language, would come under grave threat if a divisive force such as the saffron party comes to power in the state."
Lashing out at the prime minister for "including his photo in COVID-19 vaccination certificates", Banerjee further said that Modi never flew to Bengal when the pandemic hit, and claimed he "was sitting at home in fear".
"But I travelled to different areas, visited hospitals," she added.
With inputs from PTI
The commission said it is a matter of deep regret that a "media narrative was sought to be weaved hour after hour to misguide voters, by a candidate who also happens to be CM of the state"
West Bengal elections 2021: Faced with tough challenge, TMC pulls out all stops to ensure Mamata Banerjee's win in Nandigram
Since January, the TMC has been on an overdrive in seeking to ensure the chief minister's victory from the Nandigram seat
The BJP is locked in a tightly contested election in West Bengal with the ruling Trinamool Congress