Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) chief JP Nadda on 10 September accused West Bengal Mamata Banerjee chief minister of timing the COVID-19 lockdown in the state last month to coincide with the launch the construction of the Ram temple in Ayodhya on 5 August and lifting it for Eid.
“By imposing the lockdown, she crushed the wishes of crores of people. It is a different matter that the lockdown was lifted Eid on 31 August…This is a politics of appeasement. This politics of vote bank appeasement needs to be exposed,” Nadda said in his address to BJP workers via video-conferencing.
The West Bengal government imposed a state-wide lockdown on seven non-consecutive days in August to contain the spread of the COVID-19 pandemic.
The BJP has been upbeat over its prospects in the 2021 West Bengal assembly polls since its performance in the 2019 Lok Sabha elections. Its vote share in the state increased to over 40% in 2019 from a mere 2% in the 2011 assembly polls. The BJP won 18 out of West Bengal’s 42 Lok Sabha seats to emerge as the second-largest party after ruling Trinamool Congress (TMC) in the state.
The BJP has repeatedly targeted the TMC government over its “vote bank politics” in the state, where Muslims account for 27% of the population. In 2017, the BJP targeted the TMC for imposing restrictions on idol immersion during Durga Puja celebrations as it coincided with Muharram. Muharram is the first month of the Islamic calendar when Muslims take out processions to mourn the killing of the Prophet’s grandson, Hussain, and other members of his family in the Battle of Karbala in the seventh century.
Nadda credited “blessings the BJP got from people in Bengal” to the party’s rise in the state, with an increase in vote share from 2% in 2011 to 18% in 2014 and over 40% in 2019.
“…This is how we have to proceed and throw out the TMC. Mamata Banerjee knows the ground beneath her feet has shifted. She knows people are ready to welcome the Lotus in West Bengal.”
Nadda accused Banerjee of blocking the implementation of schemes like Ayushman Bharat that benefit the poorest of the poor. “Nearly 45 million people in West Bengal have been deprived of up to Rs 5 lakh that the scheme offers,” he said.
Nadda said the state government has not even shared the list of farmers eligible to get three instalments of Rs 2,000 in their accounts under the PM Kisan Samman Nidhi scheme annually. “She has not let the Pradhan Mantri Fasal Bima Yojana be implemented in West Bengal …is it not her duty to worry about the fate of farmers? She changed the name of the Pradhan Mantri Awas Yojana… the money is coming from the Centre but she has put her stamp on the scheme. “
Nadda said Banerjee was not even sharing COVID-19 data. “They stopped a team that had come from Delhi to collect data even as dead bodies remained unattended. This is anti-humanism of Mamata Banerjee.”
He referred to political killings in the state and said politics of criminalisation is being encouraged and people are being intimidated. “…But in the elections, it is the very same people who will raise their voice and send you home and bring the BJP to power.”
The TMC did not immediately respond to Nadda’s allegations.