Hindustan Times : Jan 22, 2019, 04:59 PM
BJP president Amit Shah launched his party’s Lok Sabha campaign in West Bengal on Tuesday by attacking Trinamool Congress chief Mamata Banerjee and her attempt to form an opposition alliance. “20-25 leaders can’t hold hands and defeat Prime Minister Narendra Modi, he is being supported by 100 crore people,” he said. Terming the coming together of opposition leaders as an anti-Modi front, Shah said there were nine prime ministerial candidates at Mamata Banerjee’s rally of opposition parties in Kolkata on Saturday.“What’s this gathbandhan? It’s about power and self-interest.They (opposition leaders) didn’t chant Vande Mataram and Bharat Mata ki Jai,” he addedThe BJP chief urged the people to vote for the party to make sure that illegal immigrants don’t enter the state and dared the West Bengal chief minister to make her stand clear on the Citizenship Bill. “Mamata Banerjee will oppose the bill because she is only concerned about her votebank,” he added. The Citizenship (Amendment) Bill seeks to grant citizenship to Hindus, Sikhs, Christians, Parsis, Jains and Buddhists from Bangladesh, Pakistan and Afghanistan.Alleging that the state government is destroying Bengal’s culture, Amit Shah said the 2019 Lok Sabha polls will determine if the “corrupt” Trinamool will still be in powerThe BJP chief said that Bengal which was once the leader of the country is now among the low-ranked states. “The Bengal govt employees get DA 49% less than their Central govt counterparts. Where has the money gone,” he said, adding that such has been the performance of the Mamata Banerjee government that people feel even the Left dispensation was better.Amit Shahsaid the Trinamool government is scared of the BJP’s growth and that’s why it stopped BJP’s rath yatras in Bengal. “The administration has been politcised. There was no permission for my helicopter and for the rath yatra. Mamata can stop our yatras, but can’t remove BJP from hearts of people,” he added.The Bengal government had refused permission for the BJP’s “rath yatra”, citing law and order concerns. The BJP contested the denial of permission in the courts but failed to get any relief. The Supreme Court, however, did allow the BJP to hold public meetings.Even before Shah’s rally in Malda, the Trinamool and the BJP exchanged some terse words over a landing spot for the BJP boss’s helicopter.The district administration had initially told the BJP that permission to land a helicopter on the ground opposite the Hotel Golden Park, where the aircraft of chief minister Banerjee also lands, will not be possible as the airport was being renovated and that construction material was lying on the runway.The local unit of the BJP, however, pointed out that it already being used by the state government. Union minister Ravi Shankar Prasad also accused Banerjee of “abusing her power” to block Shah’s helicopter from landing in Malda and using “falsehood” to deny permission.Chief minister Banerjee later said that her government gave the permission to the BJP chief to use a helipad in the town as they believe in democracy.The BJP plans a series of public meetings by top party leaders, including Shah, Prime Minister Narendra Modi, Rajnath Singh, Nitin Gadkari and Yogi Adityanath in all 42 Lok Sabha seats of the state by February 8.Bengal is crucial in the BJP’s plan for the 2019 Lok Sabha polls and the party has set itself a target of 22 seats in the state. The party holds two seats in the state currently, but has been bolstered with a number of senior Trinamool Congress leaders joining it.