With a little over three weeks for the first of eight phases of the Bengal Assembly election, the BJP has ratcheted up the intensity of its attack on Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee.
UP Chief Minister Yogi Adityanath was in Malda – a former Congress stronghold where the BJP made inroads in the 2019 poll – on Tuesday, days after Defence Minister Rajnath Singh and Ms Banerjee.
The Trinamool responded to the attack.
The district has seen heavy polarisation – which benefits the BJP – and deploying Adityanath, who is known for his acerbic comments, is a sign the opposition is looking to build on that division.
The UP Chief Minister hurled a litany of the usual charges at the ruling Trinamool’s boss, including facilitating cow smuggling, allowing ‘love jihad‘ and encouraging illegal migrants in return for votes.
Yogi Adityanath also played the “Jai Shri Ram” card; he claimed Ms Banerjee was “playing with the people’s religious sentiments” by not allowing them to chant the slogan, and warned her to “see what happened to those who opposed the Ram Temple (in UP’s Ayodhya)”.
“The people of India don’t take any other name other than Ram. There is no other name than the name of Ram. Those who are Ram drohi (traitors) do not have a place here. I want to tell Mamata didi ‘see what happened to those who opposed the Ram Temple,” Yogi Adityanath said.
The firebrand Chief Minister also accused the Trinamool of not doing enough to stop cow smuggling; he claimed this was because of an appeasement policy.
“There is no cow slaughter in UP. We have shut illegal slaughterhouses in UP in 24 hours. Those who were goondas in UP today don’t dare do anything. When the BJP government comes to power goondas will beg for their lives,” he said.
The Trinamool, though, did not let these sermons pass unanswered.
On a day the state made headlines, again, for horrific crimes against women – in Hathras an accused out on bail allegedly shot dead the father of a sexual assault survivor – the Trinamool hit back.
Cabinet ministers Shashi Panja and Firhad Hakim, MP Dr Kakoli Ghosh Dastidar and cricketer Manoj Tiwary (who recently joined the Trinamool) all tweeted videos of the distressing incident from Hathras with the hashtag “BJP Hatao Beti Bachao“.
I fail to understand how the safety & security of this lady’s family could not be prioritized for a CM but Bengal polls? Certainly!
— FIRHAD HAKIM (@FirhadHakim) March 2, 2021
“The count of dreadful incidents being reported from BJP-ruled UP is unending! The people of UP are suffering as the state of law and order is in shackles, yet Yogi Adityanath is in Bengal??” Dr Dastidar tweeted.
“I fail to understand how the safety & security of this lady’s family could not be prioritized for a CM but Bengal polls? Certainly! Curious if Bengal BJP leaders imagine Mr Yogi Adityanath to be the “protector” of women’s security and rights in Bengal!” Mr Hakim, who is also Kolkata Mayor, said.
Bengal votes over a record eight phases (the Trinamool has accused the BJP of having a hand in the Election Commission’s decision) starting March 27. Results will be out May 2.
The BJP has pulled out all stops to unseat Ms Banerjee and campaigning for the polls have grown increasingly crude. The Trinamool says ‘political tourists’ to Bengal cannot remove ‘Bengal’s daughter’ from the hearts of the people of Bengal.