KOLKATA: Though nine months are still left for the state Assembly polls, West Bengal Chief Minister and TMC chief Mamata Banerjee on Tuesday virtually kicked off her campaign, while addressing a mammoth gathering on the occasion of martyrs’ day here.
The stark difference compared to earlier martyrs’ day meeting was the rise of Mamata’s nephew and TMC MP Abhishek Banerjee, who also addressed the gathering.
“I want five Ds -- discipline, dedication, devotion, determination and development from all TMC workers,” Mamata said.
“The Congress-CPM-BJP combine is spreading lies against us. But it is a flop combination and has no place in Bengal’s soil. They have no ideology or political dharma and will be wiped out from the country,” she said.
“I challenge them to defeat the TMC in the Assembly polls next year. We will contest the polls alone and win. We will not cow down before anyone. After the victory next year, I will address a public meeting that will surpass all records and create history,” she claimed.
Though she did not name Prime Minister Narendra Modi, she indirectly attacked him after four months of silence, saying, “In Delhi, one is talking about Swachh Bharat and Beti Padao, Beti Bachao. But in reality, it is Beti Hatao (remove girls) as funds for girls have been reduced drastically. Here our Kanyasree programme has received international praise.
“It is a communal Central Government that is depriving Bengal of funds rightfully due to it. The BJP is involved in communal riots and corruption. We will never bow before the BJP,” she said. With factional feuds within the TMC and links of some party leaders with the “syndicate mafia” coming to the fore, Mamata issued a stern warning to improve the image of her party and said, “I will not tolerate any indiscipline. If you are involved in syndicates or illegal mining, then leave the TMC. I have no problems. We are a party of the poor and will remain so.”
She also sent a message to some leaders of the TMC’s student wing and said, “Teachers and elders have to be respected. I always respect seniors and all TMC workers should do so.”
However, Mamata did not utter a word about the multi-crore chit fund scams, including Saradha and Rose Valley, and the CBI and ED probes into them in her one-hour speech.
“We are grooming young leaders who would take over the leadership in my absence. I always encourage youth because while in the Congress as a student and later as a youth leader, I had suffered as senior leaders never supported me. The new generation of leaders will ensure that the TMC remains in power for the next 50 years in Bengal,” Mamata said.
While state transport minister Madan Mitra and suspended TMC Rajya Sabha MP Kunal Ghosh, both in jail in connection with the Saradha scam, could not be present, another prominent MP and former national secretary Mukul Roy was conspicuous by his absence.
Mamata challenged her detractors and claimed, “The more you attack us, we will be stronger as the people are with us. We have only one interest and that is to serve the masses”.
“Bengal has never seen this kind of development in four years, though the CPM in 34 years of their rule destroyed the state. We will emerge victorious with a larger majority in the elections.”