Congress President Rahul Gandhi not only criticised Prime Minister Narendra Modi but also hit out at West Bengal Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee during a rally in Malda on Saturday. He launched the Congress’ campaign in the state for the upcoming Lok Sabha elections. West Bengal will vote in seven phases from April 11 to May 19.
Comparing Modi and Banerjee, Gandhi said both of them run their governments without consulting anyone and by ignoring people’s wishes. “Bengal is today run by one person,” Gandhi said, referring to Banerjee. “She does not consult with anyone. She does what she wants to do. Does Bengal not have a voice?” He alleged that Congress workers were beaten up in the state and told them to not be scared, adding that the party will come to power in the Centre and take care of them.
Gandhi added that neither the Centre nor the state government had done anything to solve the problems in West Bengal. “Did the youth get employment, did the farmers receive any help,” he asked. “On one hand Narendra Modi lies and on the other hand your chief minister keeps on making promises but nothing happens.”
The Mamata Banerjee-led Trinamool Congress was no better than the previous Communist Party of India (Marxist) government either, he said. “After seeing the CPI-M rule in Bengal for years, you chose Mamata Banerjee because they could not ensure development. But the Bengal situation is the same even now. The atrocities that used to occur during the CPI-M rule are still happening under Mamata,” IANS quoted him as saying.
Banerjee, Gandhi and Communist Party of India (Marxist) have been a part of the united Opposition’s attack against the Bharatiya Janata Party at the Centre. Gandhi and Banerjee have been at the forefront of the attack at the Centre but have taken potshots at each other at the state level.
Last week, the Congress called off seat-sharing discussions with the Communist Party of India (Marxist)-led Left Front, which will now lead to a four-cornered battle in the state, between the TMC, the Congress, the CPI(M) and the BJP.
The Congress chief promised that if his party comes to power, it will “lay down a network of government colleges and universities for high-quality, affordable education”. He also promised that the Congress will reform the “Gabbar Singh Tax”, the term coined by the Congress for the Goods and Services Tax, and “implement real GST, a simple and minimum tax”.
Gandhi also claimed that Modi had waived off the loans of industrialists but not that of farmers, and criticised the Bharatiya Janata Party’s “chowkidar”, or watchman, campaign by referring to a news report that alleged that BJP leader and former Karnataka Chief Minister BS Yeddyurappa had paid Rs 1,800 crore as bribes to several senior BJP leaders, judges and lawyers.