Mamata launches a blistering personal attack on Modi after CBI questions her nephew's wife in a coal theft case

Published : February 24, 2021 19:47 IST
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Mamata Banerjee speaking at a rally in Hoogly district on February 24.

West Bengal Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee launched a blistering and personal attack on Prime Minister Narendra Modi and Union Home Minister Amit Shah after the Central Bureau of Investigation (CBI) questioned her nephew Abhishek Banerjee’s wife over a coal theft case. She claimed that the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) is labelling the women of the State as coal thieves. Addressing a public rally at Dunlop in Hooghly district on February 24, Mamata said, “They can kill me, they can do whatever they want with me, but tell me, my mothers and sisters, can they insult the mothers and sisters of this land? They come into my house and accuse a little girl of barely 22-23 years, a daughter of the house, a coal thief…. Today the mothers and sisters of our houses coal thieves? Your whole body is covered in dirt. Where is the money from demonetisation? Why is Coal India being sold? Why is rail being sold? Answer Narendra Modi.” On February 23, the CBI questioned Abhishek Banerjee’s wife Rujira Banerjee in connection with a ‘coal theft’ case registered in November 2020.

In one of her most personal attacks against Modi and Shah, the Chief Minister said, “It [the BJP] is a party in which there is one monster and one ogre; one is Ravana and the other is a monster, and the two are running this country.” At another point in her speech she said, “In this country there are two leaders – one is a hodolkutkut (a fat, ugly creature) and the other a kimbhutkimakar (a hideously formed creature). I do not know the English or the Hindi for these words. These are typical Bengali classical words.” The BJP condemned the use of such language. Union Minister Babul Supriyo said, “I have not heard any Chief Minister of any State use such words when talking about the Prime Minister…. As a Bengali, I feel ashamed to even repeat what she said.”

Referring to the Prime Minister’s oft-repeated allegation of extortion by Trinamool leaders, Mamata said, “At the drop of a hat he says Trinamool Congress consists of tolabaj (extortionists). What are you? You are the biggest dangabaj (rioter). A tolabaj is one who takes small amounts of money, what do they call those who take crores? You call the poor village people who take Rs.5-10 tolabaj, while you are selling the country; selling factories; taking cut money. In the case of poor people you call it cut money, but when crorepatis like you take it, it is rat money. A bunch of miserable mice!”

Reiterating her main allegation that the BJP is a “party of outsiders” that is trying to take over Bengal, Mamata warned the electorate that if the saffron party came to power, then “they will take your votes and break your spinal cords. The will unleash goondas in your neighbourhood, and your localities will be taken over by outsiders… the whole of Bengal will be captured by outsiders.” A host of television and sports personalities, including former cricket player Manoj Tiwary joined the Trinamool in the presence of the Chief Minister.

Mamata’s speech highlighted two important aspects of her party’s election strategy. While on the one hand the Trinamool has been emphasising the fact that the BJP’s culture and politics are alien to Bengal, and that it is a party led by “outsiders”, it is also focussing on attracting the votes of women by repeatedly pointing out the atrocities committed against women in BJP-ruled States. “I want to ask them (the BJP) if the women in the BJP are safe? Are women safe in Uttar Pradesh? Are they safe in Bihar? Are they safe in Madhya Pradesh? …everywhere they are unprotected, and they [BJP] are jealous of the fact that women in Bengal are safe and secure,” said Mamata. She said the coming Assembly election in Bengal will decide the fate of the BJP in the country. “Know this, if you defeat the BJP in Bengal, then the whole country will be rid of them,” she told the crowd.

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