Amit Shah vs Mamata Banerjee as Bengal poll fever rises

Amitabh Tiwari
·Columnist
·5 min read

As part of the Bharatiya Janata Party’s month-long Poriborton Yatra kicked off last w,eek, Amit Shah too visited Bengal and addressed a few rallies launching a scathing attack on Chief Minister Mamata Benerjee.

Didi, not to be left behind, countered Shah’s charges with equal zeal. Poll fever in Bengal is heating up and it is clearly becoming a personality contest between Didi on one side and Modi-Shah on the other side.

Both the sides are packing political punches, including personal attacks in an election campaign which is likely to get uglier by the day.

Trinamool Congress is facing a tough battle to retain power in Bengal after the BJP has made an undeniable dent in its fortress in general elections 2019 recording 40% vote share and winning almost half of the seats.

Amit Shah called Mamata Banerjee a ‘failed administrator’ and said that the upcoming assembly elections in the state will be a contest between Narendra Modi's "development model” and Mamata’s “destruction model”.

Blaming Mamata for non-implementation of the PM Kisan Nidhi scheme in Bengal, Amit Shah promised that his government will credit Rs 18,000 in bank accounts of farmers if the BJP came to power in the state.

“Did you get Rs 6,000 in your bank accounts? How will you get the money from Modi-ji when Mamata didi doesn’t send the list of beneficiaries and bank details, ” thundered Shah.

Shah lambasted Mamata for not chanting ‘Jai Shri Ram’ and predicted that she would start chanting it before the elections are over in the state.

Mamata has on many an occasion opposed the chanting of the slogan: the latest being during the birth anniversary celebrations of Netaji Bose, and the BJP strategically has used it on numerous occasions to taunt her so that she loses her cool.

Continuing with the efforts to consolidate the Hindu vote bank or polarize (as some may call it), Shah added, "If 'Jai Shri Ram' is not chanted in India, will it be chanted in Pakistan? You get angry over it because you want to appease a particular section of people for vote bank politics.”

To neutralise Mamata’s campaign of insider versus outsider; Shah reassured the people of Bengal that Gujaratis won’t contest elections only Bengalis will, and a dhartiputra of the state from the BJP will become chief minister of the state.

Reacting to earlier threats by Trinamool leaders that they won’t allow Amit Shah till the Citizenship Amendment Act (CAA) is withdrawn, Shah said that he will keep coming to Bengal again and again till the time Mamata Banerjee loses the election.

CAA is a touchy topic in Bengal which shares porous borders with Bangladesh. Many illegal Bangladeshi migrants have entered the state, allege BJP and promise they will be thrown out one by one.

“As soon as the COVID-19 vaccination process ends the process of granting citizenship under CAA will begin,” Shah promised. The statement was made to assuage the Matua community (Hindus from East Pakistan), a section of whom have been living as refugees, that they will be accorded citizenship soon.

The Matuas had wholeheartedly backed the BJP in the general elections. They can influence the outcome of 30 seats in Nadia, and North & South 24 Parganas districts and were getting restless due to delay in implementation of CAA.

Shah also promised that if the BJP is voted to power it will spend Rs 500 crore and build a Rajbanshi Cultural Centre as a tribute to the legends of Rajbanshi community.

This is in context of his meeting with Koch Rajbongshi leader Ananta Rai ahead of Assam, West Bengal polls. The community is believed to have influence over 15 seats in North Bengal and a few seats in Assam.

Not forgetting to bash Didi’s nephew who has been the focal point of BJP’s campaign and attack, Shah added, "Modi Sarkar is for Garib Kalyan, Mamata Sarkar is for Bhatija Kalyan. She is wondering when she can make her nephew the chief minister.”

Amit Shah’s speech included the various pillars of attack on Mamata government - minority appeasement, failure to protect farmer interests (hypocrisy in backing agitation), mis-governance, corruption and dynasty.

Mamata hit back at Shah at a public function in Kolkata hinting how did his son amass so much wealth and how did he become BCCI chief.

"They keep saying Bhatija-Bua. What about your son? We are bad just because we are in Bengal. How did he make so much money? First answer this. Didi is very nice. She tells the truth. Didi so jo takrayega, choor choor ho jayega," she said.

Mamata accused Shah of same dynasty politics, in a way, tit for tat reply. She understands that wherever BJP has competition from strong regional leaders, who give it back to BJP in equal proportion, and fight it in their own ways, tooth and nail, have emerged as winners.

Nitish (2015, Bihar), Naveen (2019, Odisha), Kejriwal (2015 and 2020, Delhi) are prime examples.

"I will be a goalkeeper. I want to see how many goals you can get past me," added the chief minister.

The BJP is aware of the challenges posed by Mamata. She is no pushover. That is why it has launched a multi-pronged attack on her and the TMC government by Kailash Vijaywargiya, Dilip Ghosh, Suvendu Adhikari, TMC rebels, the Home Minister and the prime minister.

A fierce battle on the cards in Bengal. An average of polls conducted by Crowdwisdom360 estimates 151 seats for TMC and 121 seats for BJP.

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