KOLKATA: BJP president Amit Shah on Thursday hit out at the West Bengal government for encouraging infiltrators to settle in the state, saying “infiltrators are termites and we will weed them out when we come back to power”. Speaking at Raiganj, Shah said, “The BJP would introduce NRC across the country and grant citizenship to each and every Hindu refugee in the country”, while accusing Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee of misleading the people on the NRC.
He modulated his message for the Gurkha community at Kalimpong in North Bengal, saying, “Modiji has always been with the Gurkha community in the Hills and they should not be worried on the NRC issue”. Gurkhas living in the Darjeeling area—close to the Bhutan and Nepal borders and going to polls in the second phase—had voted for the BJP in 2014, and a huge chunk of the community’s leadership has aligned with the BJP again as the party eyes a third win under the Shah-driven mission to win at least 23 seats in the state .
The BJP national president said West Bengal Chief Minister Banerjee “would have to say” whether she too wanted a prime minister in Kashmir like her ally and National Conference leader Omar Abdullah. “Come clean on the issue”, he advised. Abdullah’s comment on a separate prime minister for J&K, made a few days ago, had triggered a controversy and the BJP found in the statement a tool to sharpen its attack on opposition leaders joining hands to form a grand alliance against Modi’s government.
Castigating Banerjee for questioning the airstrike in Pakistan’s Balakot, Shah said, ‘’She and opposition leaders are unhappy with the airstrikes. They are demanding proof. But I want to say it loud and clear, that we will not allow such forces to win.’’
He said the party was determined to abrogate Articles 370 and 35(A), which grant special status to Jammu and Kashmir, after forming the next government at the Centre. He also criticised Banerjee for driving out industries from Bengal and encouraging syndicate rackets to operate. Syndicates in Bengal are cartels allegedly backed by ruling party leaders that force contractors to buy inferior building materials at high prices.
Manifesto creates buzz
Darjeeling is abuzz with the BJP’s election manifesto mentioning a ‘permanent’ solution to the problems that have roiled the hills, and with a week to go to the polls, the saffron brigade appears to be a step ahead of Trinamool Congress. The party has also promised to ensure that the 11-lakh strong Gurkha community gets Scheduled Tribe status. The Trinamool is banking on a split among the Gurkhas. “People in the hills and plains as well have experienced the benefits of a slew of development projects and schemes initiated by the state government,’’ said a Trinamool leader in Kolkata.