People need a vaccine against TMC’s “cut money” and “tolabaji”, BJP chief J P Nadda said on Thursday as he and Home Minister Amit Shah mounted blistering assaults on their rivals in West Bengal and Assam ahead of the announcement of assembly polls in the two states. Both the leaders attempted to link the BJP to the cultural icons of the states while appealing to the distinct identities of the electorate and their sub-nationalist pride.
Addressing a function to mark the culmination of the “Parivartan Yatra” in West Bengal, which he had flagged off on February 6, Nadda claimed Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee does not represent the “true Bengali culture” which the BJP will restore if voted to power. He asked voters to send the ruling TMC for some “aaram” (relaxation) and give the BJP the “kaam” (work) of running the government.
In Assam’s Borduwa, Shah attacked the Congress for joining forces with Badruddin Ajmal’s AIUDF in Assam because of its “lust for power”, and alleged that successive governments of the party did nothing to rid the state of violence and infiltration. The Congress’ “greed” to capture power in the state will remain unfulfilled and the BJP along with its ally Asom Gana Parishad (AGP), which symbolises Assamese identity, will win the assembly polls with a two-thirds majority, Shah told a public rally at Borduwa, the birthplace of Srimanta Sankardeva, the 15-16th century saint-scholar, in Nagaon district.
“The Congress talks about providing security when it is joining hands with Ajmal. It’s only because of its lust for power that it has joined hands with Ajmal. “The party did nothing to free Assam from violence and infiltration despite having a prime minister who was elected from the state,” Shah said, referring to Manmohan Singh who is a Rajya Sabha member from Assam, and castigating the Congress for being “soft” on infiltration.
Lok Sabha MP Ajmal’s All India United Democratic Front (AIUDF) wields considerable influence among Bengali speaking Assamese Muslims who constitute a sizeable chunk of the electorate. Enumerating various schemes that the Modi government has launched for Assam, Shah said people will weigh the measures undertaken by it in seven years against those by the Congress over 70 years in the upcoming polls.
Nadda hit out at Mamata Banerjee while addressing a rally in West Bengal’s Anandpuri. “Yesterday, Mamata ji said she wants help from the prime minister to procure COVID-19 vaccines so she can inoculate people before the assembly polls free of cost. The Centre has already said that those above the age of 60 will get free vaccines. Those who are above 45 and have comorbidity will also get it,” he said.
“But Bengal also needs a vaccine against cut money and tolabaji and BJP will arrange for it after coming to power. We will give vaccines for implementation of Ayushman Bharat and PM Kisan Samman Nidhi. The time has come to give the Mamata government some ‘aaram’ and the BJP the ‘kaam’,” Nadda said. The Congress, which is now talking about restoring Assamese pride, did nothing to protect the one-horned rhinoceros that is linked to Assamese identity, Shah said.
Addressing a public rally in Borduwa in Nagaon ditrict, the home minister extolled Srimanta Sankardeva for his role in unifying Assam with the rest of the country more than 500 years ago which prompted Mahatma Gandhi to remark that it was he who initiated ‘Ram Rajya’ in the state. “The spirit will be rekindled,” he said.
Shah said the previous Congress governments did nothing to spread the message of the saint to the rest of the country and the world. The home minister visited Batadrava Than, the Vaishnavite monastery associated with Sankardeva where he formally launched the government’s initiative for its beautification.
Praising Chief Minister Sarbananda Sonowal and Finance Minister Himanta Biswa Sarma for providing an aid of Rs 2.5 lakh each to 8,000 ‘namghars’ (Vaishnavite prayer halls), Shah suggested that they should extend the benefit to 17,000 more such facilities during the remaining days of their current term in office. Shah reminded the people that it was the BJP government which conferred Bharat Ratna on Assam’s iconic singer-poet Bhupen Hazarika and Padma Bhushan on Congress chief minister the late Tarun Gogoi for their valuable contributions to the state.
On the other hand, Nadda visited the ancestral house of novelist and poet Bankim Chandra Chattopadhyay who penned national song ‘Vande Mataram’ at Naihati in North 24 Parganas near Kolkata. Accompanied by state BJP president Dilip Ghosh, national general secretary Kailash Vijayvargiya, and party MP Arjun Singh, Nadda went to the house where Chattopadhyay was born and paid floral tributes to him.
Nadda said he was fortunate to visit the birthplace of the great litterateur who inspired people through his works during India’s quest for freedom. “His work instilled self-esteem among the people of the country and also stirred the spirit of nationalism to take out India from the clutches of colonial rule,” he said.
Nadda also said icons like Swami Vivekananda, Rabindranath Tagore, Iswarchandra Vidyasagar, Chattopadhyay and Syama Prasad Mukherjee, had all given a sense of direction to the country. The BJP chief, who launched ‘Lokkho Sonar Bangla’ (target golden Bengal) manifesto outsourcing campaign in Kolkata to seek suggestions from over two crore voters for inclusion in the election document, alleged that Bengali icons and women have been neglected and the “pride of Bengal has to be restored”.
“The Lokkho Sonar Bangla campaign will begin on March 3 and continue till March 30. We aim 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 suggestions from the common people in our endeavour to build Sonar Bangla,” Nadda said.
All guns blazing in Assam, Shah descended on Dengaon in the restive Karbi Anglong district where he bared his soft side to militants who want to bid farewell to arms and join the national mainstream. “On February 23, extremist youths from five groups laid down arms… I want to assure you that the promises made to you by our officers will be fulfilled within one year to assimilate you into the mainstream,” he told a public rally.
He alleged that the greater Karbi Anglong district was a totally disturbed area during the Congress rule for decades and there was bloodshed everywhere. Dreaded militant commander Ingti Kathar Songbijit and 1,039 other insurgents from five groups of Karbi Anglong and West Karbi Anglong districts had surrendered before Chief Minister Sarbananda Sonowal in Guwahati on Tuesday and pledged to join the mainstream.