Prime Minister Narendra Modi said on Saturday that his Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) will appoint a “bhumiputra (son of the soil)” as the chief minister after it wins West Bengal and that he will attend the swearing-in ceremony, remarks that come in the backdrop of the Trinamool Congress (TMC)’s criticism that the BJP is a party of “outsiders”.
At a rally in Sonarpur in South 24-Parganas district, he also sharpened his criticism of chief minister Mamata Banerjee, saying that she will lose the high-profile Nandigram seat and that she is planning to contest the Varanasi Lok Sabha seat after “sensing defeat” in Bengal. Modi, a two-term MP from Varanasi, stressed that the people in the ancient city are large-hearted, though Banerjee might find them chanting Jai Shri Ram. The slogan has emerged as a bone of contention in the poll season, with the BJP accusing the CM of objecting to its chanting on a number of occasions.
“It is sure that Didi (as Banerjee is popularly called) is losing…when the BJP will form the government in Bengal, I will personally come here to attend the swearing-in ceremony. The next chief minister in Bengal will be a bhumiputra (son of the soil). I would like to tell government officials to prepare a list of beneficiaries of central schemes (in areas) where the voting is over in the first two phases so that there should not be any delay in Direct Benefit Transfer (DBT),” he said.
The BJP accuses the TMC of halting central schemes and depriving people of the benefits, while Banerjee’s party questions the opponent’s Bengali credentials and says voters will not choose a political outfit of “outsiders”. In what appears to be countermove, the BJP maintains a son of the soil will become chief minister if it wins the elections.
“Didi is now planning to contest the Lok Sabha elections (in 2024) from Varanasi. This clearly shows that Didi has accepted her defeat in Bengal…Didi is trying to find places for herself outside Bengal. Didi, just like the people of Bengal, the people of Kashi have big hearts and they won’t call you an outsider or a tourist.
“…but yes you may come across people and devotees chanting Jai Shri Ram, Har Har Mahadev…people with chotis and tilak. Didi, it is my earnest request that please don’t get irritated or angry with this…,” he said, taking another pot shot at the CM.
The Prime Minister repeated his argument that the TMC had planned to field Banerjee from a safe seat after realising that she will lose Nandigram, where she is contesting against her lieutentant-turned-aide Suvendu Adhikari, but added that the CM’s party understood that such a move would be counterproductive.
“…but there are some sensible people around her who suggested to her that if she contests from another seat, then it would be (a)…major mistake. They also suggested that if Didi loses both seats, then it will be difficult for the TMC to survive politically in Bengal,” he said.
Earlier this week, after Modi took a dig at Banerjee by saying she was looking for a safe seat, the chief minister exuded confidence that she will win Nandigram and reminded the PM that “we are not your party members that we will do whatever you say”. Nandigram voted on April 1 in the second of the eight-phase polling process.
Modi also described the TMC as “Taka Maar Company (party which swindles money)”, coming down heavily on it over corruption charges. “Didi, the people of Bengal have given their verdict, and it is clear with the first two phases. They have decided that you have to leave Nabanna (state secretariat).”