Prime electoral issues tended to give way to the ankle politics as rival Trinamool Congress and the BJP continued to cross swords on the plastered heel of Bengal Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee.
Mamata on Monday started the second leg of her election campaign in wheelchair even as Home Minister Amit Shah tore apart her “conspiracy” theory saying only God knows what happened to her at Nandigram in the evening of March 10 when she hurt her leg during election campaign.
“I was fortunate to survive on March 10 … otherwise people (read BJP) had thought that they would be able to keep me indoors with a broken leg,” Mamata told a rally at Balrampur in Bankura district circuitously rebuilding the “conspiracy” theory that she alleged after hurting her ankle during a campaign at Nadigram last week — but curiously skipped its mention in her subsequent bites.
“I have plaster in my leg. I have pain all over my body and I cannot walk... They thought that I will remain indoors after this… But then I thought that the pain of the people is greater than my pain and so I am here,” she said.
“I can break but cannot bend … I will never surrender before the outsiders … I will never mortgage my spines … I will continue to fight till I am alive.”
Addressing a rally in neighbouring Bankura district, Shah hit back wishing her a speedy recovery but wondering “what really had happened to Mamata Didi who is telling that she was a victim of conspiracy… whereas the Election Commission is telling that what happened to her was only an accident … God only knows what happened.”
Taking a dig at the Chief Minister he said, “Didi, you’re roaming around in a wheelchair, we are concerned about your leg, but are concerned about the pain of mothers of my 130 workers who were killed by the TMC goons.”
He said if BJP came to power in Bengal it would end the “syndicate and cut money raj unleashed by the Trinamool Government where you have to pay Rs 100 even for a government certificate.”
Attacking the Mamata Banerjee Government for perpetrating “corruption, hooliganism,infiltration and appeasement politics”, Shah said, “After May 2 all that will be a thing of the past. Bengal will be restored to its glorious past when it used to contribute 25 percent of the national GDP.
Shah was scheduled to address a rally at Jhargram but failed to do so as his chopper developed a snag. “I was going to come here for campaigning. Unfortunately, my helicopter developed snag and I couldn’t come to see you … but I won’t call it a conspiracy,” he said.
Attacking the TMC Government for blocking the Centre’s Jal Shakti project aimed at reaching drinking water to every household, Shah said “the Centre had disbursed Rs 900 crore for the project but the State could spend on Rs 130 crore.”
Promising the three-year arrears of Kisan Sanman Nidhi project amounting to Rs 18,000 Shah said how the central projects to benefit the farmers were being blocked by the State Government. “Even the Ayushman Bharat Project for free medical insurance up to Rs 5 lakh has been blocked by this Government,” he alleged.
Banerjee hit back saying that the Centre was not releasing the funds that legitimately belonged to the State whereas it took away thousands of crores from the State in the form of Central taxes.
“Remember, people cannot be purchased with money. On one side, we are doing development activities and on the other side BJP is increasing fuel and gas prices. How the BJP became rich all of a sudden,” she asked saying, “They earned huge money from Notebandi (demonetisation and now they are making money by selling public sector banks.”
Banerjee offered a basket of promises saying should her Government return to power it would continue to provide free ration to the people of Bengal. “The people will continue to get free ration at their doorsteps. You don’t have to come to the shop after May,” Banerjee promised, counting the welfare schemes during her tenure as the Chief Minister.
“My government has taken the decision in the Budget to give Rs 1,000 to all the widows … a pension of Rs 2,000 was also provided in the
Budget for tribals aged above 60 years,” the Chief Minister said reminding Bengal was the only State that had “not snatched the land rights of tribals.”
Shah on the other hand alleged that the Chief Minister was not allowing the proper implementation of the Forest Right Act. “Let the BJP come to power you will get the benefit of Forest (tribal) Rights
Act sitting right at your home,” he said adding BJP would end the syndicate and cut money raj unleashed by the TMC.