Union home minister Amit Shah on Tuesday asked the people of West Bengal to give Prime Minister Narendra Modi a chance for the state’s development as he hit out at chief minister Mamata Banerjee saying she would be relegated to a “political refugee” because of her opposition to the Citizenship (Amendment) Act (CAA).
“Change is needed to take Bengal ahead. People, who changed the communist rule expecting development, are now saying that even the communists were better than TMC. They are so upset. You gave communists 34 years and 10 years to Didi [Banerjee]. Now, give a chance to Modi…,” Shah said at his third virtual rally since Sunday. “I appeal to people to give Modi a chance for corruption and violence-free Bengal… you will see an end to violence, corruption, scams, extortion, terror, infiltration, and dynasty politics.” Shah said Banerjee’s “insensitive” reference to special trains for migrant workers as “corona express” would eventually seal her exit.
TMC hit back and said BJP has misplaced priorities and was focusing on politics instead of battling Covid-19, dealing with the border stand-off with China and focussing on post-cyclone Amphan relief in West Bengal.
“Covid-19 and cyclone Amphan are our focus. But since Shah raised the issue of CAA, we need to say a few things. The rules for CAA had to be notified within six months and the duration ends this week. Now they will seek another six months’ extension and revive the issue in December, which will be barely three months before the polls [in West Bengal]. They care for nothing other than votes,” TMC spokesman Derek O’Brien said.
He said their government is faring better than other BJP-ruled states. “According to the report of Centre for Monitoring Indian Economy, the national unemployment rate is 23.5%, while in Haryana it is 35%, in Madhya Pradesh 27%, in UP 21%, and in Karnataka 20.4%, whereas Bengal has it at 17.4%.”
TMC’s youth wing chief, Abhishek Banerjee, targeted the Centre over the border standoff. “As usual the speech of @AmitShah Ji was all rhetoric and no substance. Nonetheless, since he has talked about his dream of seeing ‘EXIT’ of TMC, I would like to ask him one more time – ‘When are the Chinese EXITING our territory’ #BengalRejectsAmitShah,” he tweeted.
BJP emerged as TMC’s principal opponent in the 2019 Lok Sabha polls bagging 18 of the state’s 42 seats. TMC won 22. In the 2016 assembly polls, BJP won three of the state’s 294 seats, while TMC got 211.