Virtually setting the party's campaign agenda for next year's general election in West Bengal, BJP president Amit Shah launched an all-out attack on the ruling Trinamool Congress and claimed his party would win more than 22 of the 42 Lok Sabha seats in the state.
The Trinamool rubbished his charges and claims.
Shah charged the Mamata Banerjee government with resorting to massive violence and atrocities against Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) workers, and said people would oust it from power in the near future.
Claiming his party has made massive inroads in West Bengal over the past four years, he said at a public meeting here that the saffron outfit would become the “number one” political force in the state by winning more than 22 Lok Sabha seats.
“BJP was in fourth position in West Bengal in the 2014 elections and now it has successfully emerged as the second largest party. In the 2019 elections, BJP will become the number one party in Bengal by winning more than 22 Lok Sabha seats,” Shah said.
He raised the number to 23 after people at the meeting responded with a big “yes” when Shah asked whether BJP would win the Purulia seat.
Referring to the recent rural polls in the state, the BJP chief claimed more than 20 of their activists were killed during the election process and claimed the party will not let the bloodshed of its workers go in vein.
Shah said his party’s new government in Tripura has stopped infiltration from Bangladesh, and urged people of Bengal to elect BJP at the state’s helm to achieve the same.
Accusing Trinamool and Banerjee of failure to curb infiltration, cross border smuggling of drugs and for rise of ‘Syndicate raj’ in Bengal, he said: “Tell me friends can the Mamata government stop the Bangladeshi infiltrators from entering West Bengal?
“Tell me if they be stopped or not? If you people want to stop the infiltration, uproot this Trinamool Congress government and bring in the BJP government here. Only then the Bangladeshis can be stopped from entering Bengal.”
Shah also took a swipe at Banerjee for her initiatives in forming an anti-BJP alliance in the country ahead of 2019 general elections and said she should instead focus on saving Bengal as land has started slipping from beneath her feet.
“Now, Mamata Banerjee is trying to cobble up a grand alliance. She is trying to bring together people across the country. I want to tell her, Mamata di, surely you can try to build a grand alliance, we also want a good and open election. We have no problem with the grand alliance.
“But first try to save your party in Bengal. The ground is slipping from under your feet,” Shah said with a mocking smile.
Soon after Shah’s speech, Trinamool went all guns blazing to counter him. Banerjee herself kept mum, but fielded heavyweight ministers to respond to the BJP chief.
Dismissing Shah as an “empty vessel that sounds much”, Trinamool Secretary General and state Education Minister Partha Chatterjee said: “People would give him a ‘befitting reply’ for trying to foment lawlessness in West Bengal”.
Going a step further, state Finance Minister Amit Mitra called BJP a “terrorist type of organisation”, and accused it of establishing a “neo emergency” in various parts of the state.
“He is a rioter leader. He has taken part in riots,” said Mitra about Shah.
“The way Amit Shah is trying to foment lawlessness in Bengal, people will respond in 2019. BJP will be thrown out of power at the centre,” said Urban Development Minister Firhad Hakim.
Chatterjee said: “First they should take care of Delhi and Gujarat and then think about Bengal”.
“The language they are using to woo people, that will have nil effect on the public. In Bengal, you cannot divide the state on the basis of religion or race,” he said.
Mitra also pilloried Shah for “belittling” Banerjee’s 34-year struggle as an opposition leader.
“What he has said is very shameful. He has compared Rabindra Sangeet played out at traffic signals in the state and bombs. What is he trying to say? Does he want to say Mamata Banerjee is throwing bombs?” he asked. (IANS)