KOLKATA: In an apparent dig at the BJP, West Bengal Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee on Friday said some visit the state prior to elections and leave making tall promises, but she stays by the side of people throughout the year.
Inaugurating a Chhath puja in the city, Banerjee said her government does not believe in only delivering speeches during polls.
Without naming central BJP leaders who visited West Bengal in the recent past, Banerjee said, "There are some people who come to the state only before and during elections. They deliver long speeches and then leave soon afterwards. Unlike them, we stay with the public throughout the year, in every situation."
Assembly elections are due in West BengaL in April-May next year.
Urging people to take part in Chhath rituals in adherence to COVID-19 guidelines, she said her government did not stop people from celebrating Eid, Durga Puja, Kali Puja and now Chhath.
"We just requested people to diligently follow certain safety guidelines. We are happy that the public came forward and extended all cooperation to enforce the guidelines during the festivals," Banerjee said.
The chief minister said many states have asked people to observe Chhath rituals at home, "but we have allowed people to go to waterbodies in small groups avoiding long processions".
Banerjee said Bengal is a state of amity where different religions and communities live together, and called for "defeating those who try to instigate riots and discord. This country is for justice and humanity."
Meanwhile, the TMC leadership on Friday accused the BJP of engaging "non-Bengali outsiders to dictate terms" to the people of the state, an allegation refuted by the saffron party as "baseless and politically motivated".
Senior TMC leader and minister Bratya Basu, while addressing a press conference here, said the BJP was "anti- Bengali" and that was the reason the party, which is in power at the Centre since 2014, has not appointed any Bengali as its Union Cabinet minister.
"Outsiders who do not know Rabindranath Tagore are dictating terms to the people of the state. We had seen how violence perpetrated by them led to desecration of Ishwar Chandra Vidyasagar's bust (during May 2019 Lok Sabha polls campaign)," Basu stated.
Noting that the people of the state would never accept the dominion of "non-Bengali outsiders", Basu said, "History has shown any such attempt has never succeeded. This time, too, there will be no exception."
Basu, while taking about BJP leaders deputed by the central leadership for Assembly polls, said Bengalis are being targeted and outsiders being sent to the state to do so.
"They want to control us with the help of outsiders. Do we have to keep our heads down? Is this misery the fate of Bengalis?" he questioned.
Pointing out to media reports suggesting that US President-elect Joe Biden's Cabinet is likely to have Indian- American professor Arun Majumdar as one of its members, Basu said, "Even Biden is fascinated by Bengalis, but Delhi isn't."
He also sought to know why the saffron camp, despite having a Matua MP, did not accommodate someone from the community in the Union cabinet.
"After we came to power in 2011, we appointed a state cabinet minister from the Matua community. In 2019, a Matua member from Thakurbari became an MP, but he was not given any ministry. Did they deserve such humiliation?" he questioned.
Emphasising that the TMC believes in taking "everybody along, unlike the BJP", Basu cited the example of retired IPS officer Rajpal Singh who was sworn in as a minister after the party came to power in 2011.
"But you will not see Bengalis being given a ministry in any other state.
You have an Arjun Singh as an MP here, then why not Arjun Roy from Uttar Pradesh or an Arjun Banerjee as MP from Gujarat?" he said.
Rejecting the allegations, the BJP leadership said it would like to know if political strategist Prashant Kishor, appointed by the TMC to strengthen its poll prospects, was a "Bengali or non-Bengali".
"Our central leaders had come here to assist us and not to dictate terms. The TMC has been talking about outsiders. I would like to ask the party whether Prashant Kishor is an insider. The TMC knows it will lose the assembly polls, that is why it has resorted to such tactics," BJP state president Dilip Ghosh said.
Elections to the 294-member West Bengal Assembly are likely to be held in April-May next year.