Prime Minister Narendra Modi on Monday claimed that people in poll-bound West Bengal have made up their mind to vote the Bharatiya Janata Party to power and usher in change.
“A BJP government needs to be formed not just for political change but for “ashol poriborton” [real change],” the prime minister said, throwing in Bengali words into his speech at a public rally in Hooghly district.
After inaugurating the extension of the Kolkata Metro Railway from Noapara to Dakshineswar, Modi attacked the ruling Trinamool Congress for alleged corruption among local level leaders. “The state government’s ‘cut money’ culture has vitiated the atmosphere to such an extent that you cannot even take a house on rent without paying it....you cannot rent a house without the syndicate’s permission,” he claimed.
Modi accused the state government of not doing anything to improve infrastructure and heritage sites. “I have been told the house where Bankim Chandra Chattopadhyay conceived and penned Vande Mataram is in an abysmal condition,” Modi said. “The man who injected new life into the freedom struggle...his house is a victim of neglect. It’s an insult to Bengali pride.”
According to prime minister, this highlighted the politics of vote bank and appeasement over that of nationalism and “sabka vikas” (development for all). “This politics stops people of Bengal from immersion ceremony of goddess Durga,” Modi claimed. “People of this state will not tolerate the insult of their tradition over vote bank politics.”
Accusing the Mamata Banerjee-led government of misusing Central funds, Modi claimed that his government had sanctioned Rs 1,700 crore for drinking water in West Bengal, of which only Rs 609 crore was spent. He also reiterated the BJP’s long-held criticism for the West Bengal government of not implementing Central initiatives like PM Kisan Samman Nidhi – a cash transfer programme for farmers – and health insurance scheme Ayushman Bharat in the state.
Among the states going to polls in the next few months, the BJP is strongly campaigning in West Bengal. Modi has made multiple visits to the state in the recent past. The prime minister has visited West Bengal twice in the last few weeks, and is expected to address a huge rally on March 7 at the Brigade Ground in Kolkata.