While the campaign for the West Bengal assembly election has been high on sarcastic remarks by Prime Minister Narendra Modi and indecent ripostes from Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee, the latter alone has excelled in making claims that are downright absurd. After claiming before the election began that Trinamool voters’ biriyani could be spiked with sedatives to stop them from exercising their franchise, Mamata Banerjee today urged the women activists of her party to block the passage of CRPF jawans who, she claimed, were acting as BJP workers, targeting women in particular, not allowing them to vote.
What was perhaps weirder was that a statement from Mamata Banerjee that some officers of her own state police have ‘switched sides’! “We want peaceful voting,” said Mamata Banerjee at the Coochbehar meeting today, “but as soon as the polls began, some police officers have become BJP. Not everyone, of course.”
“Police heads do this. I saw one in Arambagh yesterday. I saw the role of the OC of Arambagh. Ordinary people have to vote. Ordinary people should be given a chance to vote,” Mamata Banerjee said.
On the role of the central forces, Mamata said if the CRPF prevented people from voting, a group of women must gherao (surround and block) them while others will vote.
“I respect the CRPF,” the chief minister said, “They are real soldiers. But they are doing nuisance. I do not respect the BJP’s CRPF. They are beating women and harassing people,” Mamata Banerjee alleged, casting aspersions on the paramilitary force that recently lost 22 jawans in a fight with Maoists in Chhattisgarh.
“In Sukma,” Mamata Banerjee said, “so many jawans were killed. What is the government doing for them?”
The next moment, the chief minister lost her sympathy for CRPF all over again! “Now they are saying, ‘Go vote!’ And they’re asking people to vote for the BJP.”
“They are stopping women from voting,” the chief minister said, “and so, the police must act impartially,” once again finding the cops neutral!
“I appeal to the Election Commission to ensure that no voter is beaten,” Mamata Banerjee said.
The chief minister accused the opposition of taking recourse to terrorism in the third phase of voting. She said, “How do I even begin to describe the torture we endured yesterday! Trinamool candidate Sujata Mandal was beaten with a bamboo stick. They killed our booth president in Goghat. Our candidate Nazbul was thrashed in Khanakul. And the central force came and stood guard in the villages to prevent women from voting.”
Mamata Banerjee claimed that CRPF jawans in the villages above did not permit people to vote. “I ask mothers and sisters, if anyone stops of you from voting, will you obey quietly? Have the courage and speak up!” the chief minister exhorted.
Mamata Banerjee said, “Remember, it is good to be non-violent, but if someone is mischievous, he has to be slapped. You have to cast your vote. BJP is afraid of mothers and sisters.”
The chief minister concluded, “If the BJP comes to power, maybe one day they will do it with the help of the NRC (National Register of Citizens). They will ask you to go to detention camps. I will not let this happen. All people in Bengal are citizens of India.”