An independent candidate from the North Dinajpur Keeki Karandighi assembly seat in the West Bengal assembly election, who used to be a Naxal in the 1960s and ’70s, has described Prime Minister Narendra Modi as the world’s greatest leader. Despite owning property worth Rs 651 crore, the independent candidate, Benoy Kumar Das, who lives in a rented house, says that the prime minister has overcome many problems of the country.
During a conversation with a reporter of a Hindi newspaper, Binoy was asked who he would like to choose between Narendra Modi and Mamata Banerjee. He said, “Prime Minister Narendra Modi is an international leader. He dealt with the Kashmir problem, ended the Ram temple dispute and got the temple built there, gave a befitting reply to Pakistan on the border, all this is his identity.”
The former Naxal activist said, “Whereas Mamata Banerjee is only robbing Bengal. Her party Trinamool Congress looted the state of crores and crores of rupees.”
Das added, “I contested the panchayat election, during which Trinamool Congress workers persecuted the common people a lot. Candidates were kidnapped. They are persecuting people even today.”
Filing his nomination as an independent candidate on 3 April, the former Naxal said that for the past several decades, he had been living in a rented house just out of his whim. The value of his ancestral property is Rs 6,50,82,57,000. Vinay, who filed his nomination from the Raiganj assembly constituency, is originally from the Karnajora Kalibari area.
Das used to work in the panchayat office. He retired in 2005. In the West Bengal panchayat election in 2018, he contested from a seat of Raiganj Zilla Parishad but lost. In the 2019 Lok Sabha election, he had tried his luck from Raiganj too but failed to get enough votes.
The former Naxal shared with reporters information about his ancestral property in Malda where he owns more than 100 ac of land. There are mango orchards on some plots, which are registered in his name. Apart from this, he has inherited 14 houses in Raiganj, Malda, Jalpaiguri, Haryana and Varanasi. He said he liked contesting in elections as eccentrically as he loves living in rented accommodation.
Das, despite his Naxal past, has never been convicted in any case. No lawsuit is pending against him. Inheritance alone explains his riches, as he does not have cash at all. Even his wife has no jewellery or cash.
Das got his BSc degree from North Bengal University in the year 1966. He never sought any loan. He has no pending liability. Pension, other than his inherited property, is his source of income.
All the nine assembly seats of District North Dinajpur will vote in the sixth phase on 22 April. Out of the eight phases of polling this time in West Bengal, three phases were held on 27 March, 1 April and 6 April.
Das said about the prime minister, “I salute Prime Minister Modi. He has worked for the poor. He has saved democracy. He is a messiah of the poor.”
Talking of his ideology of younger days, the former leftist extremist said that former Naxal activists had become slaves of capitalists. “All are filling their pockets with commissions,” the former Naxal added, saying many of his co-activists of the 1960s and ’70s are now in the Trinamool Congress, fleecing the local people.