TMC’s pitch for peaceable coexistence faces the BJP problem

Shubhadeep Choudhury
Tribune News Service
Kolkata, December 7

“Ram and Rahim could coexist peacefully here and so do the others,” West Bengal Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee said on Monday while addressing a rally in Medinipur.

In Siliguri, 650 km away from Mediniur, BJP general secretary and the party’s West Bengal unit in-charge Kailash Vijayvargiya also addressed people but the tenor of his speech was completely different from that of Banerjee.

Accusing the Trinamool Congress supremo of Muslim appeasement, Vijayvargiya alleged that it was because of her that immersion programme of the Hindu Goddess Durga had to be put on hold so that the Muharram procession of the Shia Muslims could take place as planned.

Attacking Mamata for describing the BJP as a party of outsiders, Vijayvargiya alleged that while Mamata Banerjee was ready to host Rohingya Muslim refugees of Myanmar, she wanted BJP leaders from outside the state to be driven away from West Bengal.

Both Mamata’s rally at Medinipur and BJP’s “Uttarkanya Abhiyan” (“Uttarkanya” is the local secretariat created for people living in the northern districts) programme were held keeping in mind the Assembly elections which are going to be held in West Bengal by April 2021.

The difference in the tone and tenor of the speeches by Mamata and Vijayvargiya made it clear how TMC and BJP – the two principal rivals in the hustings – will go about campaigning for the polls.

Besides the security the religious minorities enjoy in West Bengal, Mamata also talked about various welfare schemes introduced by her including the most recent health insurance scheme. The scheme, according to Mamata, will provide health cover of up to Rs five lakh to each one of the 10 crore population in the state.

No other state government in the country would provide food grain under the PDS free of cost (free distribution of food grain started during lockdown has been extended  up to June 2021 in West Bengal) or provided cycles free of cost to school students, the chief minister claimed.

Mamata also strongly supported the ongoing farmers’ agitation and said the Modi government should either repeal the farm laws or quit.

To underscore her commitment to the farming community, Mamata cited the agitation led by her in 2007 to prevent acquisition of farm land by the then Left Front government in the state for handing over to industry. “I have not forgotten those days”, Mamata said.

The BJP programme saw pitched battles fought between party workers and police in full riot gear. While the BJP workers broke through barriers set up by the police and pelted the cops with stones, the police retaliated by using water cannon against the protesters and also chased them with lathis.

BJP state president Dilip Ghosh later claimed that one Pulin Roy of BJP lost his life in the police action.

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