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Modi – Mamata Address Parallel Poll Meetings in Cooch Behar

Modi – Mamata Address Parallel Poll Meetings in Cooch Behar

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Manas Dasgupta

NEW DELHI, Apr 4: Cooch Behar, the crucial district in north West Bengal, became the rallying point on Thursday with the Prime Minister Narendra Modi and the Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee holding parallel election meetings within 30 kilometres of each other for their respective BJP and the Trinamool Congress candidates.

While Ms Banerjee labelled the BJP worse than a snake — “You can trust a snake and even pet it, but not the BJP” — the Prime Minister addressed what has come to be the burning political issue in the state, the Citizenship Amendment Act (CAA).

Mr Modi used CAA, which Ms Banerjee has said would not be implemented in her state, to attack the ruling TMC, but without naming Ms Banerjee or her party, claiming that the state’s ruling party was targeting the CAA only to remove attention from corruption.

“They (INDIA bloc) never cared for the marginalised communities. Now that we have brought CAA, they are spreading rumours and lies. It is Modi ki guarantee to provide citizenship to those who have faith in Maa Bharati,” he said addressing a rally at the Rash Mela grounds in Cooch Behar.

“I am saying remove corruption; the opposition is saying ‘save the corrupt.’ I will ensure the corrupt are punished, and the poor get justice. In the next five years, more stringent action will be taken against the corrupt,” he added.

Mr Modi also did not lose his attention from Sandeshkhali which had been his focal points during his visits to the state last month. While Trinamool was trying to save the culprits of Sandeshkhali, “the BJP’s focus is empowering the women. The culprits of Sandeshkhali will spend their lives in jail,” Modi said.

Ms Banerjee at her meetings addressed the CAA issue. Cautioning the people against the act, which she said was the BJP’s ploy to deny citizenship to some people, she said as soon as one register under the Citizenship Amendment Act, one would be deemed to be from Bangladesh and they would lose all basic rights.

She told her audience, “As soon as you submit your name for registration, you will be declared a Bangladeshi. This means you will not get the benefits under Lakhishree, Kanyashee, you will not be able to vote, you will not have citizenship rights, government rights. Think yourself whether it is good or bad.”

“The CAA is a trap to turn legal citizens into foreigners. Once you (BJP) implement CAA, NRC will follow… Remember CAA is the head of the fish, the tail is the NRC,” Ms Banerjee said, citing the snake analogy to claim the BJP could not be trusted. “We would allow neither CAA nor NRC in West Bengal. If you apply, you will be designated as foreigners,” she added.

The BJP has re-nominated the sitting MP, junior home minister Nisith Paramanik, from Cooch Behar.  The Trinamool has fielded the sitting MLA of Sitai, Rajbanshi community member Jagadish Barma Basunia. Ms Banerjee also attacked the BJP candidate reminding the voters that Mr Paramanik was a TMC reject. “It is a matter of national shame that a person against whom there are several cases, has been appointed as the minister of state for home affairs. He was sacked from our party. Now, he is the asset of the BJP,” she said. Mr Paramanik, a former leader of the Trinamool’s youth wing, was expelled from the party in 2018, after which he joined the BJP.

Later Mr Modi also kicked off the NDA poll campaign in Bihar with a meeting at Jamui and attacked the previous “Mahagathbandhan” government for corruption deliberately overlooking the fact that the head of the government was the same JD(U) chief Nitish Kumar who has since moved back to the NDA and was sitting next to him on the dais.

Slamming the “previous Congress-RJD government” in the State, with no mention of the fact that Bihar was last governed by a coalition that included the Congress and Rashtriya Janata Dal (RJD), but was headed by the Janata Dal (United), which is currently a member of the ruling NDA, Mr Modi said, “This Congress-RJD government in Bihar even opposed the Bharat Ratna award conferred on [the late veteran socialist leader] Karpoori Thakur; they opposed a tribal becoming the President of India. “This ghamandia [arrogant] alliance wants to keep Bihar in the lantern age,” Mr Modi said. He quickly added: “We say corruption hatao [remove corruption], they say corruption bachao [save corruption]… Jo garib ka paisa loota hai usko lautana padega. [They will have to return the money of the poor which they have looted.]”

The Prime Minister also listed out the achievements of his government at the Centre. “This 10 years of [NDA] government is only a trailer, a lot of things have to be done to take India and Bihar into the future,” he said. “Poor people’s welfare is the Modi government’s priority. Nine crore people in Bihar are getting free ration and it will continue for the next five years as well; 84 lakh people in Bihar have got Ayushman card [free health insurance upto ₹5 lakh); even two crore animals have been vaccinated for different diseases,” he said, adding, “Jab niyat sahi, to natije sahi (When intentions are right, the results are bound to be right).”

“India is today the world’s fifth largest economy. Our Chandrayaan has reached to the moon and the G-20 meeting held in India recently has become a point of discussion the world over,” Mr Modi said, adding that “this has not become possible by Modi, but by your vote.”

He also slammed the previous Congress-led UPA government at the Centre, saying, “They were the land grabbers of poor people in lieu of jobs [in Railways].” He acknowledged that JD(U) chief and current Bihar Chief Minister Nitish Kumar had been the Railway Minister under a previous NDA regime, but said that his tenure had been “blameless.”

Mr Kumar, who shared the stage with Mr Modi at the Jamui event, repeatedly stated that he would “not go anywhere from here,” in an implicit acknowledgement that he has previously left the NDA several times. “In between, I had gone with those people [the RJD-Congress] for some time, but now, I’ll not go anywhere,” he repeated. Claiming that development work was achieved in Bihar with the support of the NDA government at the Centre, Mr Kumar predicted that “this time, the NDA will get more than 400 seats in the Lok Sabha election.”




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