West Bengal Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee on Wednesday said she will not allow her state to be turned into Gujarat, as the Bharatiya Janata Party sets the agenda for the upcoming Assembly elections with sharpened attacks on the Trinamool Congress chief’s policies on development, reported PTI.

“Bengal thrives on excellence and merit,” Banerjee said. “We cannot allow to turn it into Gujarat.”

The chief minister asserted that people of the state will have to prevent the saffron party from immolating the Gujarat model of development there. “The soil of Bengal is the source of life,” she said. “We have to protect this soil. We have to take pride in this. There is no one who can come from outside and say this place will be turned into Gujarat.”

Banerjee was referring to Union Home Minister Amit Shah’s promise that if voted to power, the BJP would implement policies that will facilitate development.

During his two-day visit to the state, Shah had criticised Banerjee for her references to BJP as “the party of outsiders” and said that the next chief minister of West Bengal will be “a son of the soil”. He claimed people were yearning for change to get rid of “corruption, political violence, extortion and Bangladeshi infiltration”.

The home minister had also made pointed attacks on the state of West Bengal’s economy under the ruling Trinamool Congress government. “After independence, Bengal would contribute one-third to the GDP,” Shah had said, according to NDTV. “But it has fallen ever since.”

The Trinamool Congress chief, however, dispelled all criticism on Wednesday, further asserting that she would not allow the BJP to divide West Bengal along the lines of religion. “Our message is that we are for all,” she said. “Humanity is for all whether he is a Sikh, Jain, Muslim or a Christian. We don’t allow any division among them.”

Shah addressed a number of public rallies in the run up to the state elections, scheduled to be held in April-May next year. A number of Trinamool Congress leaders, including former minister Suvendu Adhikari, joined the saffron party in his presence.

On Monday. Banerjee had called Shah a “cheatingbaaz”, saying he could do anything for the sake of political gains. “I want to tell Amit ji that you are the home minister and it does not suit you to shell out lies provided by your party workers without cross-checking,” Banerjee had said, referring to Shah’s speeches during his visit to the state.

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