Narendra Modi accuses Trinamool government of standing in the way of development and indulging in vote-bank politics

Published : February 22, 2021 21:42 IST

Prime Minister Narendra Modi addressing a public meeting in Hooghly district on February 22. Photo: Swapan Mahapatra/PTI

With the Assembly elections in West Bengal round the corner, Prime Minister Narendra Modi kept up his attack on the Trinamool Congress government, accusing it of standing in the way of development. Addressing an election rally in West Bengal’s Hooghly district on February 22, Modi said, “Those who talk of Maa Maati Maanush [Mother, Land, Humanity—Trinamool’s political slogan] have stood like a wall in the way of Bengal’s development.”

He alleged that while the Centre sends money straight into the accounts of the poor and peasants, the State government’s funds do not reach its beneficiaries as it is extorted by the lower levels of the ruling party.

Modi’s attacks so far have been mainly directed at the Trinamool leadership, but this time he also trained his guns at corruption in the ruling party at the grassroots level. “In every village, the Trinamool leaders are getting richer, while the common people are getting poorer,” he said.

Referring to Bengal’s “past glory”, the Prime Minister said that for long the State was left to its own devices and little was done to promote growth and development. “There is no lack of enthusiasm to invest in West Bengal. But the problem is with the atmosphere created by the State government. A culture of cut-cut [cut money] and syndicate has been encouraged and that is the reason why the atmosphere has been vitiated,” said Modi.

He also alleged that the State government’s “politics of appeasement” was doing “grave injustice” to the legacy and culture of the State. Said Modi: “It is the kind of politics that places the vote bank ahead of love for the country, and instead of emphasising sabka vikas [development for everyone], it focusses on appeasement. It is this kind of politics that stops the immersion ceremony during Durga Puja.” In 2017, the State government had ordered that the immersion of idols be deferred for a day as it coincided with Muharram.

He reiterated his allegation that the State government has been denying farmers and the poor people of the State the benefits of Central schemes such as the Pradhan Mantri Kisan Samman Nidhi and the Ayushman Bharat health insurance scheme. He also came down heavily on the State government for dragging its feet on the Jal Jeevan Mission, which aims to provide ready water supply to the poor.

Said Modi: “Out of 1.5-1.75 crore households, only two lakh had pipe-water facilities in their houses…. Even after the Centre pushed hard to implement the project, only nine lakh so far are getting water supply in their houses in West Bengal. The rate at which this State government is functioning ,we do not know how many years it will take for the poor people of the State to get piped water at home.” He claimed that the Centre had disbursed more than Rs.1,700 crore for this project in West Bengal, of which the State government had only used Rs.609 crore. He said: “The State government is just sitting on the remaining Rs.1,100 crore. It goes to show that this Trinamool government has no concern for the poor and the girls and women of the State…. It is important to allow the lotus to bloom here so that real parivartan’ [change] can take place in West Bengal.”

Modi, on his second visit to West Bengal in just two weeks, also inaugurated several railway projects, including the extension of the North-South Metro connectivity from Noapara to Dakshineswar. Stressing the need for building infrastructure for a nation to come out of poverty, Modi said that the Centre’s priority was to build infrastructure and connectivity in West Bengal. “Through railways, new doors of opportunity are opening up in West Bengal. The State will reap the benefits of a fully dedicated freight corridor,” he said.

Modi also pointed out that the Kisan Rail from Shalimar in West Bengal to Maharashtra will open up new business opportunities to small producers of fruits, vegetables and fish in the State.