Targeting the BJP on the anniversary of Babri mosque demolition, West Bengal Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee today said divisive politics that began 25 years ago is still continuing and religion cannot be an election issue or the agenda of a government. She also hit out at the BJP over its accusations against her government of pursuing politics of appeasement and said that West Bengal has nearly 31 per cent Muslim population. “As a chief minister of the state, it is my duty to look after them. If working for the people is appeasement, I will continue to do it,” she while at a ‘Samhati divas’ rally here to mark the 25th anniversary of the demolition of Babri mosque in Ayodhya. The Trinamool Congress chief, who is a bitter critic of the BJP-led government at the centre, said that intolerance has become the stated policy of a political party and government. “We feel proud of our diversity. We are all Indians. This is our identity. The divisive politics that began 25 years ago is still continuing. “A certain political party indulges in communal politics and wants to divide the nation. Religion cannot be the agenda of any government” she said.
Banerjee said that someone who indulges in divisive politics, cannot lead the nation. “A true leader must take everyone along”, she said. Accusing the BJP of “trying to disturb communal peace and harmony in the state”, she said, “As long as I am alive I will speak for the people. You cannot silence me.” Banerjee alleged that intolerance has “reached its peak”. “Journalists are getting killed, people are being lynched. Who has given these people the right? The government must protect its people,” she said. The chief minister said, “Who are they to decide who can eat what? They are even dictating what pregnant women will eat. They are only issuing fatwas and inciting communal tension.”
“Roti-kapda-makan (food, clothing and shelter) must be the issue during elections. Development must be the issue during elections. Whether a party has fulfilled its manifesto must be the issue during elections. Religion and communal politics cannot be an issue,” she said. She appealed to the people to remain alert and thwart any attempt to disturb communal peace. She alleged that the BJP-led government at the Centre is “pursuing vendetta politics against the TMC” and challenged it to fight on the plank of development.
“In UP they cannot even provide basic healthcare to the children and they talk big. We challenge you to compete with us on the plank of development”, she said. Banerjee alleged that her party leaders were being threatened and arrested as they were speaking against the BJP. She cited the instances of party MP Sudip Bandopadhyay, Tapas Pal and former minister Madan Mitra in this connection. “They (BJP) cannot stop us from speaking against their anti-people policies,” she said. Supporting electoral reforms, she said that there must be transparency and accountability.
She also said that the Election Commission should look into complaints about EVMs. Criticising the role of a section of the media, she alleged that some TV channels were spreading lies about the Uttar Pradesh municipal polls. She claimed that the vote share of BJP has decreased by 13 per cent in UP but no one was talking about it. Referring to farmer suicides in the country, Banerjee claimed that they are common in BJP-ruled states like Maharashtra and Madhya Pradesh.