Shah in Malda underlines Modi govt’s commitment to Hindus

BJP president Amit Shah said the opposition's mahagathbandhan reeked of 'greed and lust', with nine prime ministerial candidates while assuring Bengali Hindus India is their home; the TMC denounced the speech

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Amit Shah Malda

Malda: BJP president Amit Shah on Tuesday launched his party’s Lok Sabha election campaign in West Bengal with an assurance to Hindus of Bengal that they will not be identified and deported unlike the community that does not suffer persecution in Bangladesh and Pakistan and yet sneaks into India for reasons of economy and terrorism.

“The TMC government has done nothing for the refugees. But we will give citizenship to all the Bengali Hindu refugees. I want to assure all the Bengali refugees that they will get citizenship. I want to ask Mamata Banerjee whether they will support the Citizenship Bill. I am sure she will not support it,” Shah said adding that the Citizenship (Amendment) Bill will be a major poll plank of the BJP in bordering States of West Bengal.

“This TMC government only work of infiltrators and are only interested in supporting them,” he said.

Asserting that the Modi government was committed to legislating the Citizenship Bill, Shah wondered whether West Bengal Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee will support the bill or not.

After passage in Lok Sabha, the Citizenship Bill awaits the crucial test in Rajya Sabha where the ruling NDA does not have majority. He described the Trinamool Congress dispensation as a “government that facilitates murders” and said the party will be ousted in the general elections.

Speaking on the issue of refugees in West Bengal, Shah said the TMC government has done nothing for them.

Mahagathbandhan scoffed at

A large part of the BJP president’s speech was dedicated to scoffing at the proposed grand alliance of opposition parties. He said it was a mahagathbandhan of “greed and lust”, with nine potential prime ministerial candidates.

Shah claimed West Bengal Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee’s act of bringing in 20-25 leaders on one stage would not serve any purpose as Narendra Modi will become prime minister again. The BJP president said that out of the 23 leaders, who attended the Brigade parade ground rally, nine of them were potential prime ministerial candidates.

“But, we have only one prime ministerial candidate, Narendra Modi,” he told a BJP rally here, three days after Brigade ground gathering of the opposition at Kolkata.

Shah, while kickstarting ‘Ganatanatra Bachao Yatra’ in Bengal, vowed to overthrow the Mamata Banerjee-led TMC government in the State.

“Mahagathbandhan is all about greed and lust. They want to remove Modi, while we want to remove poverty and corruption. They want a ‘majboor sarkar‘ (helpless government) so that they can engage in corruption. We want a ‘mazboot sarkar‘ (strong government) so that we can give a befitting reply to Pakistan. It is for the people to decide whether they want a ‘mazboot‘ or ‘majboor‘ government,” he said.

“Mamata di should know that bringing together just 20-25 leaders on the same stage won’t serve any purpose as people will again vote to re-elect Narendra Modi as prime minister. The 100 crore people of this country stand with Modi,” he said.

Taking a jibe at the brigade meet of the opposition camp on 19 January, he said the anti-BJP parties did not utter ‘Bharat Mata ki jai‘ or ‘Vandemataram’ even once during the rally, but kept chanting ‘Modi-Modi’.

Mamata blocking Modi’s schemes from reaching Bengal

Listing out various developmental projects of the Modi government, Shah said the TMC dispensation is not letting these initiatives to pass on to the people of Bengal as Banerjee is afraid that Modi’s popularity will increase in the State.

“The State government has come out of Ayushman Bharat. When the poor people in other States will be able to avail the health insurance benefits under this scheme, the people of Bengal will be deprived of it,” he said.

Criticising the TMC government for not giving DA to State government employees, Shah said if the BJP comes to power in West Bengal, it will ensure that this allowance for central and State government employees are on par.

“I want to appeal to all of you that give the BJP more than 23 seats in Bengal to have the Modi government at the Centre,” he said.

During his visit to the State last year, Shah had set a target of more than 22 of the 42 Lok Sabha seats in Bengal.

“Remove the TMC government from Bengal and we will stop cow smuggling and infiltration in Bengal. If lotus blooms in Bengal then you won’t have to pay syndicate tax to TMC leaders”, he said.

Malda was once considered to be a stronghold of the Congress under its stalwart ABA Ghani Khan Chowdhury but now the TMC has made inroads in this bordering district. The minority-dominated district is infamous for cow smuggling and infiltration.

“What kind of democracy is there in Bengal? We wanted to take out four rath yatra in Bengal. The TMC government became so afraid that it didn’t give us permission as their final yatra would have started had the BJP been able to start its rath yatra,” Shah claimed.

“I want to tell Mamata Banerjee that if you stop us from taking out rath yatra, then we will start a padyatra and if you don’t allow us to take out padyatra then we will hold roadside rallies. But you won’t be able to undermine the spirit of BJP workers,” he said.

Shah blamed the previous Left Front government along with the present TMC dispensation for economic deterioration in the State. He claimed, seeing the working of the Mamata Banerjee government, people say the Left were still better than the TMC.

“The State of Bengal, which used to contribute 27% of the country’s GDP saw a slide during the communist rule. Now under the TMC government, its contribution has come down to 3.3% only,” he said.

Shah during his speech in Malda invoked Netaji Subhas Chandra Bose and referred to Modi naming three islands in Andaman & Nicobar after him.

Shah’s Malda speech shows BJP’s nervousness: TMC

The Trinamool Congress described BJP chief Amit Shah’s speech in Malda as “low on facts and poor in taste”, saying it seemed the saffron party had become nervous and realised that its days were numbered.

“After listening to the BJP president’s speech in Malda, it’s obvious that they are very nervous. They know their days are numbered. They are politically-scared. Their speeches are low on facts and poor in taste,” TMC spokesman Derek O’Brien said.

“They (BJP) don’t understand the ethos of India. They don’t understand the ethos of Bengal. They are heading towards one big zero (in West Bengal in the general election),” the TMC spokesman said.

“Some are saying they are desperate, some are saying they have gone mad… or is it a combination of both?” the TMC leader asked.