KOLKATA – On a day when Prime Minister Narendra Modi accused Mamata Banerjee of thwarting the pace of development in West Bengal, the Chief Minister accused the BJP of indulging in divisive politics and engineering communal strife to win the ongoing Assembly elections.
Addressing a rally at Raidighi in South 24 parganas district, which is a Muslim dominated area, Banerjee said, “Don’t fall in the trap of a BJP-aided party from Hyderabad and its Bengal ally which are out to polarise votes.”
The Chief Minister was apparently hinting at the Asaduddin Owaisi-led All India Majlis-e-Ittehadul Muslimeen (AIMIM) and Abbas Siddiqui’s Indian Secular Front (ISF). Both Owaisi and Siddiqui had earlier denied the Trinamool’s insinuations.
The ISF is fighting the elections in alliance with the CPI(M) and the Congress.
Reiterating her ‘outsider’ theory, the Chief Minister urged the Hindus “to be on the guard against the BJP’s attempts to instigate communal clashes” and called upon them to chase away the outsiders who have been sent to foment trouble in their respective localities.
“They will divide West Bengal and its people. Remember how they deleted the names of 14 lakh Bengalis and 2 lakh Biharis in the updated NRC in Assam,” she said.
“I am a devout Hindu who recites Chandi mantra every day before leaving home. But I believe in our tradition of giving respect to every religion,” she said.
Hinting at the BJP leaders having lunch at the houses of Dalits, she said, “I am a Brahmin woman. But my all-time associate is a Scheduled Caste woman who takes care of all my needs. She also cooks food for me. I need not advertise this as those bringing five-star hotel lunch to eat at the courtyard of a Dalit home are anti-Dalit, anti-backward caste and anti-minority in nature.”
Later in another election rally, the Chief Minister alleged that Central forces are terrorising people at every home 48 hours before polling, asking them to vote for the BJP.
“Don’t be intimidated mothers and sisters, challenge them. We have no problems if the forces act impartially to ensure free and fair elections, but if they act on behalf of a particular political party, we will protest,” she said.
The Chief Minister, who is campaigning for the third phase of Bengal polls scheduled on April 6, held a series of rallies in South 24 Parganas district, including in Raidighi, Canning and Kulpi, and Tarakeshwar in Hooghly district on Saturday.
She ended her rally with a roadshow at Howrah Sadar area in Howrah district.