The BJP president hopes to compensate the losses in Uttar Pradesh by getting new seats in Mamata Banerjee’s West Bengal. No wonder, even as he is recovering from swine flu, Amit Shah rushed to pitch for Mission 23.
Malda: The BJP President Amit Shah on Tuesday during a rally in Malda called out Mamata Banerjee’s TMC government for murdering democracy in Bengal. From Shah’s speech it is clear now that the election in Bengal is no longer an election between political parties, rather it is an effort to re-establish the Bengal of Subhas Chandra Bose, Syama Prasad Mukherjee and Rabindranath Tagore.
Another thing that Shah, who was still visibly weak after suffering from swine flu, did at Malda was set the tone of the upcoming political meetings and rallies in Bengal.
Vote bank vs vote bank
Shah’s speech at the Malda rally focused on corruption and minority appeasement. While addressing the crowd, he evoked controversies regarding Durga immersion and partial restrictions on celebration of Saraswati puja in schools.
Last year, idols of Durga were not allowed to be immersed on the tenth day of the puja as it clashed with Muharram. TMC was lambasted for this decision.
Shah alleged that Banerjee was concerned about her ‘vote bank’ hinting at her trend of Muslim appeasement. However, in a way, he too played vote bank card on Hindus of the state. Already reeling under victimhood, the Hindus were reached out to by Shah who stated, “Mamata di wants you to believe that Bengalis will be thrown out. That’s wrong. In fact, we are bringing citizenship amendment bill that will help all Hindus, Sikhs and Buddhist refugees from Bangladesh, Pakistan and Afghanistan to seek Indian citizenship here. But TMC walked out from Lok Sabha when the bill was passed, don’t know what will they do in Rajya Sabha”.
Another main issue that Shah brought up to attack the TMC government was corruption. He accused the TMC government of hand in glove with syndicates. Syndicate Raj is a term often used in Bengal for a nexus which forces anyone who is building residential or industrial units to buy components like cement, bricks or iron from a specific seller who sells it at a higher rate than what is available in the market.
Shah also alleged that the Mamata-led government is beneficiaries of multiple scams, like Sarada scam and Rose Valley chit fund scam, that rocked the state. In the Rose Valley chit fund scam, many high profile TMC leaders were caught on camera accepting bribes.
Rest of India vs Bengal
Shah also played on the narrative of the rest of India vs Bengal, suggesting that the TMC ruled state is lagging behind other states in terms of development and standard of living. “In Centre, we have given the seventh pay commission to the government employees. But here, government employees still get the fifth pay commission pay. The day we form the government, on the very first cabinet meeting the decision to upgrade it to seventh pay commission standard will be taken, that’s my word,” promised Shah.
The BJP president also alleged that the daily allowance of state government employees is half of what their counterparts are getting in the Centre.
Pitting Mamata against Modi
One strategy Shah carefully employed this time was pitting the Bengal chief minister against PM Modi. Shah said there were at least nine Prime Ministerial candidates on the stage during the “United India” rally organised on Kolkata’s Brigade parade ground on January 19.
“They have so many leaders to become Prime Minister. But we have just one leader and the entire NDA is standing like a rock behind him,” said Shah.
Earlier BJP’s Bengal unit chief Dilip Ghosh said, “Our chief minister wants to be the Prime Minister. They came here, ate what Mamata served and said yes Mamata should be the Prime Minister. But when they went back, they sang a different tune”.
Lack of Democracy
All political leaders led by Banerjee had one reason to give the ‘oust Modi’ slogan from the parade ground and that was the allegation that the central government has jeopardised democratic values and institutions.
The BJP president accused Banerjee of doing the same thing. He highlighted that not only BJP’s Rath Yatra was opposed tooth and nail by the Bengal government, but his helicopter was also not allowed to land at the scheduled place in Malda on flimsy grounds. “Even if you don’t allow my helicopter to land, I will address rally from the helicopter. Even if you don’t allow us to hold rallies, I will walk across the state to fight against you. The way democracy is being ridiculed in this state is amazing”, said Shah.
The BJP leader also highlighted the political violence during the panchayat elections that saw around 65 deaths and more than 100 injuries -- all allegedly perpetrated by TMC cadres to prevent the opposition from filing nomination.
Amit Shah on Wednesday will hold another rally in Jhhargram. Initially, there were supposed to be two rallies, one in Jhargram and the other one in Birbhum districts, but due to his health, the BJP reworked their strategy.
The other rallies will be held by senior leaders like Yogi Adityanath, Nitin Gadkari and Smriti Irani, announced Dilip Ghosh from Tuesday’s rally.
Though Ghosh also said that PM Modi will be holding three rallies in Bengal, sources have told MyNation that the party has decided not to go ahead with the Prime Minister’s rallies due to time and logistical constraints.
What BJP aims to do is, if one goes by Amit Shah’s speech, to get anything beyond 23 seats from Bengal. Last time BJP had two seats from Bengal and gong by that it’s quite an ambitious ask for BJP.
But the vigor and the aggression with which BJP has gone out in Bengal this time, shows they are serious about their aim.
Moreover, for BJP, a Bengal which is already witnessing a saffron wave can be the ideal place to compensate for the loss that the party witnessed in Uttar Pradesh.
Why else a BJP president, barely four days after he was admitted to AIIMS with swine flu, will rush to Bengal to roar, “Even Ravan’s regime was brought down.”
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Last Updated 22, Jan 2019, 7:37 PM