Kolkata: The Trinamool Congress on Wednesday said Prime Minister Narendra Modi is free to visit the state for BJP’s election campaign “20 times or more” to see for himself the spree of development under the TMC dispensation and compare it to that of states ruled by the saffron party.
West Bengal minister and party spokesman Bratya Basu told reporters that Modi is welcome to attend as many meetings, say 20 or more, he wishes to and come to the state as many times he wants to see for himself how Bengal has left behind states like Uttar Pradesh and Madhya Pradesh on development parameters.
Basu was replying to a query whether eight-phase assembly polls in the state, beginning on March 27, would enable BJP heavyweights to address multiple meetings in different parts of the state.
“We don’t bother. May be they (Narendra Modi and Amit Shah) want to see for themselves how much Bengal has progressed after TMC came to power in 2011… how roads look like, how power cut has become a rarity, how people in rural areas are getting better amenities and how states like UP and MP are lagging behind,” Basu said.
BJP sources said Modi is slated to address multiple rallies during the eight-phase polls in the state stretching a little over a month. Leaders like Shah and J P Nadda will also address several meetings as well as other BJP heavyweights like Yogi Adityanath.
Asked about two-time TMC MLA from Pandabeswar and former Asansol mayor Jitendra Tiwari joining the BJP on March 2, Basu said, “It is the culture of the saffron party to admit people having tarnished reputation with open arms”.
“Previously the local MP had protested publicly, but perhaps after being reprimanded by his higher-ups he will be mum this time despite having bitter memories,” Basu said referring to Union minister Babul Supriyo voicing reservations about plans of inducting Tiwari into the BJP from the TMC in December last.
Asked about the claims by Uttar Pradesh Chief Minister Yogi Adityanath that there are curbs in Durga Puja celebrations in West Bengal, Basu said “People in Bengal know that nothing could be further from the truth. While Durga puja was celebrated with great fervour across West Bengal even last October, in Uttar pradesh the BJP government stopped its celebrations while allowing some other religious festivals.
“A fake sadhu is making laughable comments. He is criticising Bengal’s law and order but forgets the fact that the father of a rape victim is shot dead in his own state and there are daily reports of attacks on women in Uttar Pradesh.”
A 50-year-old man was allegedly shot dead in Uttar Pradesh’s Hathras district by an accused out on bail in a case of molestation lodged in 2018 against the victim’s daughter. In Basu’s presence, TMC secretary-general Partha Chatterjee announced the joining of popular Bengali actor Sayantika Bandyopadhyay in the party. The actor had delivered hits like ”Paapi”, ”Awara”, ”Bindaas”, ”Herogiri”, ”Uma”, ”Byomkesh Pwarbo” in her career spanning over a decade. “Today I am officially joining the TMC but I had been with ”Didi” (Mamata Banerjee) for past 10 years. At this crucial hour, people of Bengal should not be silent but come out in open support of ”Banglar meye Didi”,” she said.
Earlier actors Saayoni Ghosh, Kanchan Mallick, director-actor Sudeshna Roy, director Raj Chakraborty had joined the party which also boasts of names like hero Soham Chakraborty and veteran Dipankar Dey.
Principal of City College of Commerce Sandip Paul also joined the ruling party.
“Our leader Mamata Banerjee wants people from different walks of life to join the TMC to work for the people,” Chatterjee said.
Elections to the 294-member state assembly will be held from March 27 to April 29.