KOLKATA: West Bengal Chief Minister and TMC chief Mamata Banerjee on Monday targeted the BJP, alleging that it was trying to foment communal tension in the state, and warned that the party would be reduced to zilch.
Addressing a mammoth gathering at Esplanade here, she said: “The BJP is a communal party and communalism has no place in Bengal. They had only one Lok Sabha seat but could add another by spreading canards about us. With only two seats, they are indulging in false propaganda and canards about us. They will be soon reduced to zero in Bengal.”
“A conspiracy is being hatched to engineer communal riots in the state. Keep a strong vigil in your localities and ensure that none can spread communal tension,” she cautioned the party workers who had come from all over the state.
Mamata also criticised the BJP government at the Centre. “Within a month after coming to power, it increased prices of petroleum products and railway fares,” she said.
Surprisingly, she didn’t attack either the CPM-led Left Front or the Congress, except while mentioning that when these parties were in power, “many touts functioned”.
Though many industrial units have shut up shop over the last three years, the Chief Minister claimed “Bengal will be number one in the country in terms of industrial growth”.
Reacting to allegations that some local TMC leaders were extorting money from industrialists, Mamata said: “We don’t need money and I am not in politics for money or power. I can terrorise power. I don’t sit on the Chief Minister’s chair but on a people’s chair.”
“We don’t take money to sell the country. Before elections, I will sell my paintings and books. Why can’t I sell my works? We need money during elections. Otherwise, let there be electoral reforms and all parties be funded by the central government.”
Mamata’s stage had more Bengali film stars than TMC leaders, an indication that celebrities will be given preference over senior party workers while finalising candidates for the Assembly elections. “We don’t sell our tickets during elections. The people love us. Though many underestimate us, we are no more a political party but a people’s party. We will soon direct India’s future.”
She invited more leaders from the Congress and Left parties to join the TMC and assured them of “proper positions with due prestige”.