Rajib Banerjee, former Trinamool Minister, joins the BJP and launches a scathing attack on Mamata Banerjee’s government

Published : January 31, 2021 21:19 IST

Rajib Banerjee, former TMC leader, speaks at the BJP's rally in Howrah district of West Bengal on January 31. Photo: PTI

A day after joining the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP), former Trinamool heavyweight and Cabinet Minister Rajib Banerjee tore into the West Bengal government and his old party, attacking the government’s new schemes and outreach programmes and accusing the ruling party of perpetrating violence upon the opposition. Rajib, who was Trinamool’s stalwart leader in Howrah, joined the BJP, along with five other Trinamool leaders, on January 30. The following day at a public rally, Rajib said the Trinamool’s hugely successful Duare Sarkar (government at the doorstep) and Swasthya Sathi (a free health insurance) programmes were nothing more than election gimmicks.

“The Duare Sarkar programme introduced just ahead of the election is proof that development has not reached the people of the State. It means for so long the government was not at the doorstep of the people. Introducing a project like ‘Paraay Paraay Samadhan’ (Solution in the neighbourhood) just ahead of the election, only goes to show that for so long the problems in the neighbourhood went unattended,” said the former Trinamool Minister at a rally in Dumurjala, Howrah, in the presence of Union Minister of Textiles Smriti Iriani. Duare Sarkar, which was launched in December, has been one of the most show-cased programmes of Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee. According to the government, the programme has reached more than two crore people in just two months’ time.

Another important project recently launched by the government, Swastha Sathi, also came under attack from Rajib Banerjee. “Swastha Sathi, launched before the polls, says it will give Rs.5 lakh health insurance to each beneficiary. If it gives to just one crore people, the amount is Rs.5 lakh crore. And I ask you, what is the total budget of the government? All this is just tall talk…. They have announced a Swastha Sathi card, but they do not have proper infrastructure in hospitals, there are not enough beds, nor enough nurses and doctors…. Private hospitals are not willing to accept this card because they are saying they are not going to get paid,” said Rajib, who resigned from the Cabinet on January 22. According to the government, as of January 31, it had reached out to 76,41,053 people through the Swastha Sathi insurance scheme.

Rajib and several influential Trinamool leaders, including MLAs Baishali Dalmiya and Prabir Ghoshal, former MLA and party heavyweight from Ranaghat Partha Sarathi Chatterjee, former Mayor of Howrah Rathin Chakraborty, and well-known actor-turned-Trinamool leader Rudranil Ghosh, were supposed to be inducted into the BJP by Amit Shah at the rally on January 31. However, Shah had to cancel his trip to Kolkata, and the rebel Trinamool leaders were flown to Delhi on a chartered plane on January 30 and formally taken into the saffron fold by the Union Home Minister. Although Shah was not physically present at the rally on January 31, he delivered a speech virtually, in which he welcomed the new BJP members and said that the rate at which people were leaving Trinamool, Mamata Banerjee will be left all alone by the time the election arrives.

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