Jalpaiguri (West Bengal):
Prime Minister Narendra Modi, who ridiculed the opposition parties joining Mamata Banerjee’s mega rally as “maha milawat” (grand adulteration), today attacked the Bengal Chief Minister on her home turf. Speaking at Jalpaiguri neighbouring Darjeeling district, the Prime Minister accused the Mamata Banerjee of sitting in dharna in favour of “those who looted the poor”.
Ms Banerjee had staged the sit-in protest for a full 40 hours starting Sunday at Kolkata – nearly 600 km from Jalpaiguri – against the centre, accusing it of trampling upon institutions and the Constitution.
The BJP has one legislator in the neighbouring Alipurduar district and one lawmaker in Darjeeling. Since 2014, the BJP has lost the support of the local party in Darjeeling. But in other parts of north Bengal it has made some inroads and the PM chose to rally at Jalpaiguri to cash in on that sentiment.
The BJP has set itself a massive target of 23 of the state’s 42 seats and is going all out in Bengal, flying or wheeling in its senior leaders. This was PM Modi’s third rally in the state in a week. Party chief Amit Shah has also held two rallies already. Uttar Pradesh Chief Minister Yogi Adityanath was also scheduled to hold three rallies in the state, but managed to hold only one after his chopper did not get permission to land.
PM Modi, who reached Moynaguri in Jalpaiguri around 4 pm, flew from Delhi to Bagdogra airport and then took a chopper to the ground in Jalpaiguri for his meeting.
He cited one of Bengal’s biggest icons, Subhas Chandra Bose, to bash the chief minister.
“Netaji fought for Indian unity. In Bengal, you have a Chief Minister who is standing with people who have looted the poorest… many of whom had committed suicide because the chit funds had ruined their lives,” he said.
Reiterating BJP accusations of a cover-up attempt on part of the chief minister through her dharna, PM Modi said: “Why are you so scared of the probe? Why are you on dharna for people who did slipshod investigation? The chowkidar will not let them go. Either the looters or those who are protecting them… in whatever numbers they come, however much dharna they do. This is my promise to each and every chit fund victim”.
Ms Banerjee’s three-day sit-in protest, which grew into a full-blown face-off against the centre, had started after a huge showdown between the Kolkata police and the Central Bureau of Investigation or CBI. The CBI officials who came on Sunday to question the city’s top cop Rajeev Kumar about two Ponzi schemes, were not allowed to enter Mr Kumar’s house and were promptly detained.