West Bengal Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee today alleged that the BJP was trying to “intimidate” the ruling Trinamool Congress in the state and asserted that Bengal was not afraid of this strategy. “They (BJP) are afraid of the TMC. That is why they are trying to intimidate us. But, the TMC cannot be browbeaten. We hold our heads high. Those who challenge me, I accept the challenge. We will capture Delhi,” she said addressing a public meeting here. In an apparent reference to BJP president Amit Shah’s visit to a slum in her Bhawanipur Assembly constituency in Kolkata yesterday, Banerjee said, “They come from Delhi and spread lies. They are in a hurry (to capture power in Bengal). They are threatening to unleash the CBI on TMC leaders. They cannot handle Gujarat, but they are eyeing Bengal.”
“Before the 2014 Lok Sabha election, the BJP had promised to bring back black money but nothing has happened. It is easy to talk big at the time of elections,” she said. Referring to the BJP’s promise to take over (sick) tea gardens, Banerjee reminded the gathering that over a year had passed since the promise was made, but nothing had happened. “Development is the biggest pillar of our strength in Bengal. What we can achieve, nobody can match that,” she said.
Banerjee took another veiled dig at Shah, who had eaten lunch at a Dalit house in Naxalbari a couple of days back, saying, “Lunch at a Dalit household and dinner at a five star hotel, we do not believe in such photo-ops.” Renewing her charge that the BJP incited the people in the name of religion, she called upon the citizens not to align with the saffron party.
“We work for all the religions, castes, communities,” she said while alleging that the BJP was “trying to destroy” Bengal by “indulging in divisive politics”. Claiming that the BJP government at the Centre was planning to shift the Tea Board headquarters from Kolkata to Assam, Banerjee said, “Why are they trying to deprive Bengal? They can set up another office of the Tea Board.” She alleged that the BJP was working in collusion with the CPI-M which had left behind a huge debt burden for Bengal.
In an apparent reference to Shah’s statement that development had taken a back seat in Bengal even during the TMC rule, Banerjee said, “Our government works for the poor. No one can match the work done by us. “India’s industrial growth rate is 7 per cent while that of Bengal is 10 per cent. India’s growth rate in the service sector is 9 per cent while that of Bengal is 13.99 per cent.”