Prime Minister Narendra Modi on Saturday stepped up his attack on the Bharatiya Janata Party’s (BJP) political rivals in poll-bound West Bengal and Assam, accusing them of derailing development and ignoring people’s needs for their vested interests.
Addressing his second rally in West Bengal in three days, Modi accused chief minister Mamata Banerjee and her nephew and Trinamool Congress MP, Abhishek Banerjee, of corruption, adding that industries were closing down in the state while “syndicate culture and mafia raj” were flourishing.
“The nation is continuously progressing towards a single-window [redressal] system. But in Bengal, only bhaipo [nephew] single-window works as nothing can happen without passing through this window. Because of TMC syndicate, old industries are shut and only mafia udyog prospers,” he said at a rally in Kharagpur.
Modi said the people of the state trusted Mamata Banerjee and gave her two terms as the chief minister but she shattered their dreams. “Now you see her making new promises. Didi [Mamata Banerjee], people gave you 10 years, but you gave them 10 years of misrule and corruption.
In his speech, Modi alluded to Friday’s global outage of Facebook, WhatsApp and Instagram to attack the state’s current and previous governments.
“Yesterday, WhatsApp, Instagram and Facebook were down for 50-55 minutes, everybody got worried. But in Bengal, development, and dreams have been down for 50-55 years. First, it was Congress, then Left, and now TMC, who have blocked the state’s development,” he said.
Urging voters to give the BJP an opportunity in the eight-phase elections that begin on March 27, Modi said: “Give us five years. Bless us just once. Give us the opportunity to serve you. We will make up for everything that went wrong in 70 years. We will take Bengal to a new path of development.”
The state’s ruling TMC was quick to rebut Modi’s charges, with Abhishek stating that development took a backseat in BJP-governed states.
“ Since the Prime Minister is talking of development under a double-engine government, he should explain how much progress Uttar Pradesh has seen. We have only seen minor girls being gang-raped and youths being murdered there,” the 33-year-old said at a rally in Daspur.
In Assam, which votes in three phases between March 27 and April 6, Modi accused the Congress of openly supporting forces that he said were out to finish the identity of Assam tea and destroy the tea industry.
“Chabua itself has ‘Cha’ (tea) in it and who better than a chaiwala [tea seller] can understand the pain of tea garden people? The people who make toolkits, insulted Assam, are the partners of Congress. [The Party] Still has the audacity to ask for votes in Assam? Will people of Assam forgive such party?,” he said at the rally, his second in the state in this week.
His remark was an apparent reference to a ‘toolkit’, an online document intended to help amplify the ongoing farmers’ protest, shared by Swedish teen climate activist Greta Thunberg on her social media platforms in February.
During his rally, Modi also continued to target the Congress-All India United Democratic Front (AIUDF) alliance.
“Once the biggest party in the country, Congress is now getting smaller because they do not respect talented people. They are not concerned about people of Assam and their development. They can go any extend and betray anyone for power. Its shame that Congress has joined hands with a party which is a big threat to heritage and culture of Assam,” he said at a rally in Chabua.
Defending their alliance with the AIUDF, Congress spokesperson Supriya Shrinath said: “When they [BJP] allied with Mehbooba Mufti’s PDP [Peoples Democratic Party] in Jammu and Kashmir, wasn’t it unholy? In Assam BJP ally AJP has given tickets to former AIUDF leaders but only our alliance is unholy. This shows how frustrated they are,” she said.