Will Tejashwi Yadav make any impact in Assam and Bengal?

KOLKATA: The BJP on Tuesday asked the Trinamool Congress whether it would call Tejashwi Yadav of the RJD and leaders of other parties from outside West Bengal supporting the TMC in the election outsiders in the same way it has branded functionaries of the saffron party visiting the state.

BJP spokesperson Shamik Bhattacharya also alleged that state Finance Minister Amit Mitra has provided misleading information on the MSME sector investment during the Covid-19 pandemic.

“Divisive forces” like the Indian Secular Front (ISF), led by influential Muslim cleric Abbas Siddiqui, has emerged because of the “politics of appeasement” pursued by the TMC, he alleged and cautioned people against “communal polarisation”.

Bhattacharya claimed that Yadav violated the model code of conduct by meeting Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee at the state secretariat Nabanna on Monday and asking people originally hailing from Bihar to vote for the TMC from its compound.

He, however, did not mention Yadav, the leader of the opposition in Bihar assembly, by name and described him as “the son of a jailed RJD leader and former chief minister”.

“We are hearing that a leader from Uttar Pradesh is also coming to the state after pledging his moral support to the TMC. NCP leader Sharad Pawar too is expected to come for the same reason,” Bhattacharya told a press conference here.

By “a leader from Uttar Pradesh”, he apparently meant Samajwadi Party president Akhilesh Yadav.

“I have a simple question for the chief minister. You have branded our leaders Narendra Modi, Amit Shah and J P Nadda as outsiders. Then what are these leaders? “The cheap parochial outsider narrative invented by your party to describe the country’s prime minister, the home minister and our national president has now faltered,” Bhattacharya said.

Any non-BJP leader is welcome to Bengal for campaigning against the saffron party, “but my question is shouldn’t they also be called outsiders”, he said.

On the newly formed ISF floated by Siddiqui, the cleric of Furfura Sharif in Hooghly district, Bhattacharya claimed that the Left is trying to use it for survival.

The Left Front has agreed to leave for the ISF 30 seats as part of the Left-Congress-ISF alliance. Seat sharing talks are on between the ISF and the Congress.

“The BJP will fight against such forces till its last breath. We will not allow the return of pre-1947 situation in Bengal. The appeasement policies of the Trinamool Congress government led to the emergence of forces like Siddiqui,” he said.

The state BJP spokesperson also accused Amit Mitra, the finance and industry minister of West Bengal, of providing misleading information about MSME sector investment during the time of the COVID-19 outbreak, violating the model code of conduct.

“Banks in Bengal lent Rs 63,000 Cr for investment to Medium-Sml industry,Aprl2020-Jan21, with State Gov’s support. Result: 23 lakh new jobs as per GoI capital/labour ratio,” Mitra tweeted on Monday.

According to the minister, crores of rupees were invested during the COVID-19 pandemic in West Bengal for new MSMEs, Bhattacharya said and wanted to know the source of the money.

“Actually, the money provided by the Centre to ensure existing industries do not close down during COVID situation and the lockdown has now been falsely cited as investments for new MSMEs,” he said and branded the state government as “shilpa chor” (industry thief).

Earlier, the TMC government used to be known as “chal chor” (rice thief),”tripal chor” (tarpaulin thief), “kendriya prakalpa chor” (central scheme thief), Bhattacharya claimed, referring to accusations that various items provided by the Centre did not reach the intended beneficiaries in the state.

The chief minister herself had said during the peak of COVID-19 outbreak that it has affected livelihood of people and there has been no new employment opportunity, the BJP leader claimed.

The state government took no initiative to improve the condition of industries, he alleged.