Kharagpur, West Bengal: Going all guns blazing, Prime Minister Narendra Modi on Sunday dubbed West Bengal Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee as a “Shahenshah”, raised the sting operation that showed a number of Trinamool Congress leaders allegedly accepting bundles of cash and called the Congress-Left Front poll adjustment a challenge to Bengali pride and wisdom.
Modi held responsible the 34-year Left Front rule followed by the five-year Trinamool regime for “ruining Bengal” and urged the people to give one opportunity to the Bharatiya Janata Party to turn the state around and take it to heights of development.
“I have a three-point agenda — development, fast paced development and all-round development,” the prime minister said, addressing his maiden election rally in the state ahead of the assembly polls.
He said that while the industrial scene was bleak, bomb-making factories thrived in villages, with the Banerjee government giving a free run to the criminals in exchange for the miscreants ensuring votes for the ruling party during elections.
He launched a direct attack on Banerjee, saying she no more cared for the state.
“Five years back, I had been hearing of ‘poriborton’ (change). I also thought change will come (in West Bengal). Change did come, but it came in didi’s (elder sister – as Banerjee is affectionately called), nature, her motives, her manner of work. But Bengal did not experience any change.
“As an opposition leader, she used to fight on the streets. But that Mamata didi changed so much that she does not care for anybody. She has become a shahenshah. Such a change is not desirable in democracy,” Modi said, addressing a huge turnout in this town in West Midnapore district.
Modi also came down heavily on the Trinamool by referring to the Saradha chit fund scam and the purported sting operation carried out by the Narada News portal that showed several Trinamool leaders, including former unions ministers, current state ministers, MPs allegedly taking money.
Asking the people whether they had voted the Trinamool to power in 2011 only to see them go neck deep in corruption, the prime minister said: “First, there was Saradha, now Narada. In Narada, the entire leadership… (some even said) when will you give the next instalment?”
“Did you want such a poriborton? That they will take bundles of notes before the camera?”
“This is your money, this is the money of the janta janardan (people), which has been looted, and is now been distributed.”
Drawing a contrast with the BJP-led National Democratic Alliance government at the centre, Modi said: “I am also in power in Delhi for almost two years. But has there been even one spot on us? Has there been even one rupee of graft?”
Modi asserted he would rather prefer to go hungry than “steal from people’s pockets”.
Turning to the poll adjustment between the Congress and the Left Front, the prime minister said that while the Congress and the Communists were fighting one another in Kerala, they joined hands in Bengal.
“Kerala me kushti, aur Bengal me dosti (they wrestle in Kerala, but are friends in Bengal). Is it not an insult to Bengali pride? The Congress and the Communists have challenged Bengalis’ wisdom. Bengalis will not pardon them.”
Ridiculing the parties for trying to keep their arrangement “behind the curtains” in Bengal, Modi said “if they had the guts they should have openly said they are opportunists, who are only interested in capturing power, and not bothered about Kerala or Bengal”.
He said there was a time when Bengal was the leader in industrialisation.
“But while the Left Front broke the back of the industries, Banerjee has sent the state to the grave in this respect.”
Accusing the Trinamool regime of “betraying” the people’s trust and “backstabbing” the people’s dreams, he said it even tried to create hurdles in the implementation of the central schemes.
Modi said that while the Centre was paying a subsidy of Rs.27 per kg for giving rice at a cheap rate to the poorer sections of the society, “Didi says ‘I am giving it'”.