Kolkata: Sharpening her attack on Prime Minister Narendra Modi, who is on a visit to the poll-bound state, West Bengal chief minister Mamata Banerjee on Saturday alleged that money collected under PM Cares Fund during the Covid-19 pandemic was being used in the Bengal elections by the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP).
Countering Modi’s allegation that extortion and illegal commission, often referred to as “cut money” in Bengal, have become the norm during the Trinamool Congress (TMC) regime, Banerjee said, “If a poor man takes ₹500 from someone you say it is cut money. What about the crores of rupees that you have stolen? Where did the money in the PM Cares Fund go? Why is there a shortage of Covid-19 vaccines?”
The TMC chief also had a warning for her supporters about electronic voting machines (EVMs) to be used in the polling exercise. “Be very careful. Form groups of 25 people to keep an eye on the EVMs till the poll results are declared. Turn off the machines twice after the trial run on the day of polling. If you are careless, the votes cast may go to the BJP,” she said at the port town of Haldia in East Midnapore district. “I also appeal to Left-minded people to vote for us,” Banerjee added.
Elections in West Bengal will be held in eight phases from March 27 to April 29.
Continuing with her offensive, Banerjee said, “The money raised from people is being used now in the elections. Outsiders are coming to Bengal. They are spending taxpayers’ money. BJP is a party of extortionists.”
Banerjee said, “Why are you selling insurance companies, banks and Railways? The BJP must answer. Modi has destroyed India’s economy. Some day they will sell the Haldia port as well. Things are running normally in Bengal because we have been able to keep the BJP out.”
On Banerjee’s allegation regarding PM Cares Fund, Bengal BJP chief spokesperson Samik Bhattacharya said it was baseless and made in desperation.
“There is no shortage of Covid vaccines. The allegation is absurd. Adequate vaccines are being sent by the Centre not only to the states but to other nations as well. Of the vaccines sent here, only 30 lakh have been used so far, according to official records. The Bengal government has 20 lakh vaccines in stock,” said Bhattacharya.