KOLKATA: Lashing out at Union Home Minister Amit Shah, the TMC on Tuesday said he "peddled lies" at the BJP's virtual rally for West Bengal and the saffron party was "hungry for votes" even as the state was battling the double whammy of COVID-19 and devastation caused by Cyclone Amphan.
Addressing the rally earlier in the day, Shah criticised the TMC-led Bengal government for its alleged apathy towards migrant workers.
He said these labourers would ensure Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee's exit in the 2021 assembly polls as she "insulted" them by terming Shramik Special trains, which were run to ferry them home amid lockdown, 'Corona Express'.
Shah also attacked Banerjee over the alleged culture of political violence in the state, saying the only industry that was flourishing in Bengal was that of "crude bombs and illegal weapons".
Trinamool Congress (TMC) Rajya Sabha MP Derek O'Brien hit out at the Union minister during a virtual press conference, saying Shah "peddled lies" during his speech at the rally.
He contended that it was due to lack of planning on the part of Prime Minister Narendra Modi and Shah that the country was witnessing the migrant labour crisis.
"The labourers are being packed inside trains like they were a herd of cattle. Did the Centre give money to the labourers who lost jobs? The answer is no. The financial stimulus package is a sham," he said.
O'Brien claimed the Centre is yet to clear Bengal's legitimate financial dues of more than Rs 50,000 crore.
He also asked if the money collected in the PM CARES Fund would be used for funding the BJP's election campaign.
Earlier in the day, senior TMC leader and the CM's nephew Abhishek Banerjee said Shah's speech was full of rhetoric and sought to know why he remained silent on the India-China border standoff.
"As usual, the speech of Amit Shah Ji was all rhetoric and no substance.
Nonetheless, since he has talked about his dream of seeing 'EXIT' of TMC, I would like to ask him one more time - 'When are the Chinese EXITING our territory'," the TMC leader tweeted with hashtag #BengalrejectsAmitShah.
Indian and Chinese armies have been engaged in a standoff for a month now in several areas along the Line of Actual Control (LAC), the de-facto border between the two countries, in Ladakh.
Both countries are trying to defuse the crisis through diplomatic and military channels.
State Education Minister Partha Chatterjee also took to Twitter to attack Shah.
"At a time when the state is battling a pandemic and a natural disaster, Amit Shah's priorities are crystal clear. Bengal, remember the face of this man who is just hungry for your votes and nothing else," he said.
The official Twitter handle of the TMC said, "Amit Shah, someone who's himself put the inclusivity of India in danger, talks about 'restoring' the culture of Bengal. Doesn't he remember it was Mamata Banerjee who restored statue of Vidya Sagar, vandalised by his men in front of his own eyes."
A bust of the 19th-century polymath and social reformer Ishwar Chandra Vidyasagar was vandalised during a clash between TMC and BJP workers on May 14 last year when Shah was holding a roadshow in Kolkata ahead of the Lok Sabha elections.
Both the parties had accused each other of desecrating the bust.
Bengal Finance Minister Amit Mitra, who was part of the virtual press conference with O'Brien, too, rebuffed Shah's allegations.
"The BJP government at the Centre is a 'nakli maharaj', a copycat. In 2016, we had floated the health scheme 'Swastha Sathi' The Union government copied our scheme and launched with the name Ayushman Bharat. Under the Swastha Sathi scheme, more than 7.5 crore people have been benefited," he said.
During his speech, Shah had assailed the Bengal government for not joining Ayushman Bharat, the Centre's flagship health insurance scheme.
"Amit Shah also said that the BJP government has built 10 crore toilets, the fact is it has built only 1.4 crore toilets," Mitra claimed.