Bankura, West Bengal:
Union Home Minister Amit Shah said Thursday that he could sense “massive public anger” against Mamata Banerjee in Bengal and that the “death knell” of the Trinamool Congress had been rung.
Hitting out at Ms Banerjee and her government for denying the people of Bengal access to Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s welfare schemes, Mr Shah predicted a two-third majority for the BJP in state elections scheduled for next year.
“Since last night (Wednesday) I am in West Bengal and can sense the massive public anger against the Mamata Banerjee government. The death knell of Mamata Banerjee’s regime has rung,” Mr Shah told reporters at an event in the state’s Bankura district.
“We will form the next government in Bengal with a two-third majority. We are confident of bringing change to the state under the leadership of Narendra Modi,” he added, speaking in the key Jangalmahal area – which is dominated by a tribal population and was once overrun by Maoists.
Mr Shah accused the state of denying housing for Adivasis in the Jangalmahal region and creating roadblocks to prevent farmers from receiving Rs 6,000 each under the PM-KISAN scheme. He also criticised Ms Banerjee for blocking implementation of Ayushman Bharat in the state.
“Mamata didi thinks she can block the BJP by blocking PM Modi’s schemes for the poor,” he said.
As part of his programme Amit Shah will also lunch with a tribal family in Bankura today and with a Matua family in Kolkata on Friday.
The Matua community, originally from erstwhile East Pakistan, wants citizenship under the new Citizenship Amendment Act (CAA). They voted BJP in 2019 and their young Matua MP, Santanu Thakur, has been lately complaining about the delay in the implementation of the Act.
By lunching with a Matua family, Mr Shah hopes to assuage the community’s grievances and put the CAA firmly on Bengal’s electoral map.
On Wednesday, before Mr Shah came, Ms Banerjee granted land rights to 25,000 refugee families and said a total of 1.25 lakh families would be given rights – an announcement made a year ago.
“This land right document will act as proof you are a citizen of this country. No one can take away your citizenship,” she said, while also allotting Rs 5 crore for the Matua Development Board.
Ms Banerjee hit out at the BJP for only worrying about the people before elections and then trying to fool them with false promises. “Suddenly they (BJP) have woken up to the issue of Matuas. They make tall promises before votes. Do they know how long we had been working?” she asked.
Meanwhile, the Trinamool’s social media team posted a cheeky tweet this afternoon, heralding Mr Shah’s arrival in Bengal with a word puzzle: “The first word you see describes Amit Shah for you…”.
— All India Trinamool Congress (@AITCofficial) November 5, 2020
Forming the Bengal government has been a long-standing target of the BJP, which has never ruled the state, particularly after a bitterly-fought campaign with the Trinamool ahead of last year’s Lok Sabha election. The BJP recorded strong gains in the parliamentary polls, winning 18 seats (up from just two in 2014) of 42 seats, and is now a real threat to Ms Banerjee and her third straight term.
Sources say Mr Shah’s two-day visit visit to Bengal (Thursday and Friday) will focus on reshaping and rejuvenating the party’s organisational structure ahead of state polls expected in April-May.
There has been resentment in Bengal BJP ranks since senior leader Rahul Sinha was dropped as national secretary and ex-Trinamool leaders like Mukul Roy and Anupam Hazra, were given posts.
Mr Shah’s visit is being seen as an attempt to end infighting and set the BJP in campaign mode.
The visit is also being seen in the backdrop of his meeting with Bengal Governor Jagdeep Dhankhar, whose bitter and long-drawn feud with Mamata Banerjee has played out on Twitter.
Significantly, BJP president JP Nadda was scheduled to visit the state but his trip was cancelled.
With input from PTI