On the last Sunday of the campaign for the West Bengal assembly election, Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee opened before the crowds at different rallies a Pandora’s Box of conspiracy theories, the most interesting among them being the theory that her rival BJP may try to win the poll by spiking food with sedatives.
In East Midnapore, Mamata Banerjee held three consecutive meetings. Firing salvos from the meeting at Sutahata in Haldia, Bamnachak in Khejuri and Mechogram in Panshkura, she said those who were in charge of the party at one point of time have changed colours of late, hinting at the family of Suvendu Adhikari — his father Sisir Adhikari joined the BJP today — and many others like him who have dumped the Trinamool Congress (AITC) over the past six months.
She likened the deserters to Mir Jafar, the general of Siraj-ud-Daulah who had betrayed the then ruler of Bengal in his fight against the East India Company in the 1757 Battle of Plassey.
Mamata said some people might try to bribe the voters. “Never mind, vote for the party and candidate you wish to,” she said. Then she went over the top. “Agents will check the (electronic voting) machines well before voting. Miscreants may mix sleeping pills in biryani packets or rotten whey may interfere with the vote count. When the enumerators fall asleep, they gain. So I am warning you from now on. Be very careful with the voting machine,” the chief minister said along the lines of many a loser before her that had blamed the EVM after losing elections.
Bringing back the memory of 2016-end, the chief minister said, “He (Prime Minister Narendra Modi) has looted everything by seizing notes. Gas prices continue to rise. Why should people vote for him? Everyone should be given gas for free, everyone should be given free light.”
Then Mamata Banerjee came up with another threat perception. “There are plans to bring in foreign thugs. In every village. Ensure that thugs do not enter your village. Keep in mind that village roads cannot be closed.”
“They will try to prevent the villagers from voting. Keep an eye on the voting machine. EVMs need to be checked twice. You have to turn it on and off twice. If you fall asleep without guarding the voting machine, everything will be gone,” Mamata Banerjee warned.
Her nephew and heir apparent Abhishek Banerjee counted the number of populist welfare schemes the AITC government offers. “I get health for free, I get education for free. I get it when I call. There is no place for outsiders. Bangla-y nijer meyekei chai (We want our daughter in Bengal),” he said, campaigning for AITC candidate Sangram Dalui in Moyna, East Medinipur.
Abhishek Banerjee said this after her aunt made a promise of credit cards for students with drawing limits of Rs 10 lakh each.
The chief minister’s nephew and West Bengal minister said, reminding the people of the voting date in the constituency, “On 1 April, make them a fool. Poddophul jeno chocke shorshe phul dekhe [May the lotus (BJP’s election symbol) see it as an ominous day].”