Amit Shah attacks Mamata in ‘virtual rally’ and calls for ‘paribartan’ in Bengal

Published : June 09, 2020 22:31 IST

People listening to Amit Shah during his 'virtual rally', in Kolkata on June 9. Photo: BY SPECIAL ARRANGEMENT

Even as West Bengal reels under the spread of COVID-19, Union Home Minister Amit Shah sounded the battle cry for the 2021 Assembly election in the State, calling for ‘Paribartan’ (change). Addressing a ‘virtual rally’ of Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) leaders and workers across the State, Shah launched a scathing attack on Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee and her government and accused the ruling Trinamool Congress of denying people the benefits of the schemes launched by the Centre for narrow political ends.

In a nearly hour-long speech, the achievements of the BJP-led government at the Centre were juxtaposed against the failures of the Trinamool government in the state. Listing the schemes of the Central government, Shah accused Mamata of not allowing some of these schemes to reach the people of the State. Speaking of the Ayushman Bharat Yojana, which he claimed benefited one crore people who needed surgery in the last three years, Shah said the scheme was not allowed by Mamata Banerjee, "lest it made Narendra Modi more popular". "There are a lot of other ways to do your politics, Mamata ji… why deny the poor their right?... The entire country has accepted the scheme; ultimately even Arvind Kejriwal ji also accepted it, but Mamata ji why have you not accepted it still, is what the people of Bengal want to ask you," said Shah.

In case there still remained any ambiguity that this rally was with an eye to the 2021 election, he assured the people that once the election was over, "within a minute after BJP takes its oath, Ayushman Bharat will be implemented in the State". He also accused the Trinamool Congress government of not sending the list of beneficiaries for the Pradhan Mantri Kisan Samman Nidhi, as a result of which, he claimed, the farmers of Bengal were being denied Central financial aid. "Rs.72,000 crore have already entered the bank accounts of 9.5 crore farmers in the country, and every year they are getting Rs 6,000… Mamata ji if you want to play politics, then play. But why are you making these poor farmers suffer. They are already suffering because of the cyclone (super cyclone Amphan that hit the State on May 20) and corona," said Shah. He claimed that the people of Bengal have received Rs.11,000 crore directly from the Centre and, referring to a recent comment by Mamata, said, "And yet Mamata ji you sarcastically say that the BJP should manage the State if it thinks you are not doing a proper job. Let me tell you, the people of Bengal will soon fulfill your wish."

Shah even attacked Mamata on her opposition to the Citizenship (Amendment) Act (CAA) and on her alleged reluctance to accept the migrant labourers who were for so long stranded in different parts of the State due to the lockdown. "We called those trains (used for transporting migrants back to their States) as Shramiks, Mamata didi named them Corona Express…. Mamata didi, this was an insult to the labourers of Bengal, these Corona Express trains will take Trinamool out of the State," said Shah.

The return of the migrants has been a major point of conflict between the Centre and the State. While Mamata has maintained that the Centre should have sent the stranded migrant workers home before the lockdown, and its "unplanned" way of arranging for their return now is causing a huge spike in the number of COVID-positive cases in the State, the Centre has accused Mamata of turning a blind eye to the plight of the stranded workers and dragging her feet in facilitating their return.

Shah targeted the State government on a wide range of issues, including corruption, political violence, scams, appeasement politics, attack on democracy, law and order problems and gagging the press, and promised that once the BJP comes to power in the State it would "re-build a sonar Bangla" (golden Bengal). "You can stop people from road rallies, you can stop helicopters, but you cannot stop paribartan," said Shah.

Reacting to Shah’s speech, Mamta’s nephew and heir apparent to the party leadership, Trinamool Congress Lok Sabha MP Abhishek Banerjee posted on social media: "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"

Trinamool general secretary and Education Minister Partha Chatterjee said on social media: "@AmitShah's priorities are crystal clear even when the state is battling with a pandemic and a natural disaster. Bengal, remember the face of this man who is just hungry for your votes and nothing else."

Meanwhile, as the two major political opponents in the State gear up for an election that is still a year away, the present COVID-19 scenario looks grim. As of June 9, 8,985 people have tested positive for coronavirus, of them 5,157 are active cases. The total number of deaths, as reported by the State, is 425.