BENGAL POLLS 2021: Attempting to counter the TMC's core poll plank of Bengali pride, the BJP has launched the 'Lokkho Sonar Bangla' (target golden Bengal) campaign, and minced no words in describing Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee's recent "diatribe" against the prime minister as completely against the culture of the state.
Making a strong pitch for a BJP government in West Bengal to usher in 'Asol Poriborton' (real change), BJP president JP Nadda asked the people of the state whether they want to take sides with development or "cut money culture". On a day-long whirlwind tour of the state, Nadda denounced the state government as "representatives of corruption and anarchy" and said people need a vaccine against the "tolabaji" (extortion) regime of the Trinamool Congress.
Promising to restore the "lost pride of Bengal" if voted to power, he said the TMC has to be sent for "aaram" (relaxation) and the saffron party should be given the "kaam" (work) of running the government.
Nadda, while launching the 'Lokkho Sonar Bangla' crowdsourcing campaign to seek suggestions from more than two crore people in the state ahead of the assembly elections, alleged that Bengali icons and women have been neglected.
BJP will restore Bengali pride
"Mamata ji talks about Bengali pride and culture. Her choice of words against the PM, home minister and me are unacceptable. It is not expected from a CM. This is not the Bengali culture. We will restore Bengali pride and take it back to its glorious days," he said, while addressing a 'Parivartan Yatra' rally.
"West Bengal is at the crossroads. It has to decide whether it wants development or to side with the culture of corruption and cut money. We need a double-engine government for the state's development. It is for you to decide whether you want to protect the rich Bengali culture or not. Our aim is 'Sonar Bangla' (Golden Bengal)," he said.
Mocking Banerjee's appeal for adequate vaccines for the state prior to the assembly polls, Nadda said the people of Bengal also need inoculation against corruption. "Bengal also needs a vaccine against cut money and 'tolabaji' and the BJP will make arrangements for that after coming to power. We will also implement Ayushman Bharat and PM Kisan Samman Nidhi," he said.
Referring to the TMC's poll slogan portraying Banerjee as "daughter of Bengal," Nadda alleged that she did not work for the state's sisters and mothers' safety and security.
"Yes, Mamata didi, you are the daughter of Bengal, but the fact is the daughters of Bengal are not safe under your regime. The state tops the chart in crimes against women, rape and human trafficking... And now, just ahead of the elections, you are talking about the daughters of Bengal," the senior BJP leader said. His comments come days after the TMC unveiled the poll slogan - 'Bangla Nijer Meyekei Chaye', portraying Banerjee as its mascot, with focus on women voters and Bengali sub-nationalism.
Speaking at the launch of 'Lokkho Sonar Bangla', which will begin on March 3 and continue till March 30, Nadda said the party aims to reach out to more than two crore people spread across all the 294 constituencies.
"There will be 30,000 suggestion boxes, and people can also give suggestions digitally. We don't think we have all the wisdom, so we want to seek the views of the common people in our endeavour to build a Sonar Bangla," he said.
The BJP chief said the party will seek opinion on how to boost industry, agriculture, health and religious tourism, among other sectors. Nadda said the BJP aims to build a Bengal, where women can live without fear and students from the Matua community get education and jobs. He also promised implementation of the 7th Pay Commission for state government employees. He claimed that more than 1.4 crore toilets had been built in West Bengal under the Swacch Bharat Mission, and the figures speak about the "poor condition" of women in the state, especially in the rural areas.
Later in the evening, while addressing a gathering of intellectuals, Nadda sought their support in BJP's endeavour to take Bengal to new heights. "The way Mamata didi speaks, it doesn't seem like the culture of Bengal. We would urge the intellectuals to support us in our quest to build a new Bengal," he said.
Nadda also visited the ancestral house of novelist and poet Bankim Chandra Chattopadhyay and writer Bhibuti Bhushan Banerjee and paid tributes.
'TMC does not need sermons from outsiders'
The ruling TMC, meanwhile, slammed Nadda for his comments and said the TMC does not need sermons from "outsiders" to protect the culture of the state. "JP Nadda and his team know nothing about Bengal; they just read out speeches. He should do his homework properly. And, we don't need any advice from outsiders who want to destroy our state's culture. We know how to protect and preserve it, and we will do that," TMC MP Sougata Roy said.
TMC's Rajya Sabha party leader Derek O' Brien wondered whether BJP leaders coming to West Bengal suffer from a "chronic disease of spreading misinformation". "After M comes N! A few days ago, M from the 'tourist gang' made a speech in Bengal with distorted information. Our #FactCheck exposed his lies. Today, N from the 'tourist gang' distorted again. Chronic disease?" he tweeted. Brien also enumerated on how the rate of crimes against women has decreased in West Bengal compared to BJP-ruled Uttar Pradesh, and Kolkata has been "twice accorded as the safest city for women".