BJP chief Amit Shah today described Bengal as the “most poverty-stricken state” in the country and said once his party came to power in the state, it would “flourish like Maharashtra and Gujarat”. “Such poverty is not there anywhere else in the country,” he told a meeting of booth-level BJP workers here while winding up his three-day visit to the state. Shah said under BJP rule in West Bengal, no one would have to “approach the court” for the immersion of Durga idols and the people would be free to observe religious festivals such as Saraswati puja. In February, a section of students in a school on the outskirts of Kolkata had objected to Saraswati puja celebrations, triggering a controversy.
Asserting that Bengal was “next” on the (BJP’s) radar, Shah said he had coined a slogan, ‘Ebar Bangla’ (this time, Bengal) for the purpose. “I witnessed massive enthusiasm among the people during my visit and I am sure that the BJP will win (elections) in Bengal,” he added. Shah said the BJP wanted a government in the state which would provide employment, check cross-border infiltration and build a “sonar Bangla”.
“Only the BJP under (Narendra) Modi’s leadership can provide such a government. No one else can,” he claimed, adding, “Bengal will flourish like Maharashtra and Gujarat.” The BJP chief also accused the Mamata Banerjee-led West Bengal government of unleashing atrocities on the people in a way “never seen since Independence”. Earlier, the BJP chief visited three houses at Gouranganagar, on the outskirts of the city, as part of a mass contact programme aimed at expanding the saffron party’s base in the state.
The residents greeted him by blowing conch shells and offered him sweets. Shah had yesterday visited a slum in Banerjee’s Bhawanipur Assembly constituency. On the first day of his visit, he’d had a meal at a Dalit home at Naxalbari in north Bengal. The BJP chief today also paid a visit to Bharatiya Jan Sangh founder Shyama Prasad Mookerjee’s residence at Bhawanipur in the city.