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Bengal is better than UP: Mamata

Mamata at the Sanhati Divas event in Calcutta on Wednesday. Picture by Pradip Sanyal

Calcutta: Mamata Banerjee said on Wednesday that lives of people in Bengal were better than the Yogi Adityanath-ruled Uttar Pradesh in yet another scathing attack on the Sangh Parivar.

The Bengal chief minister's new target of UP marked a shift from her usual focus on the Centre and the traditional saffron camp bastion of Gujarat, Narendra Modi's home turf.

"Bengal is a truly cosmopolitan state, where no distinction or discrimination takes place.... People from UP, are you living well here? They are much better off than in UP. There, they cannot even provide basic healthcare to infants, who die helplessly. Yet, they dare to make lofty claims," Mamata said to loud cheers at the Sanhati Divas (Integration Day) event, held annually on the day of the Babri Masjid demolition in 1992.

Her reference was to the death of several children at the state-run BRD Medical College Hospital in Gorakhpur, Adityanath's backyard, earlier this year.

Although the chief minister did attack the BJP in pan-India contexts - over a range of issues from failure to bring back black money to intolerance, murder of journalists to farmer suicides - she kept on coming back to Uttar Pradesh.

Mamata alleged that the BJP was trying to suppress "real" facts from results of recent civic polls in UP, which the party claims to have swept.

"Some media outlets have been spreading nothing but lies about UP municipal polls. The real takeaways are being hidden from the people.... The vote share of the BJP has decreased, yes decreased, by 13 per cent. Is anybody talking about that?" she asked, alleging that many media house owners were scared or lured into submission so that they targeted only the Opposition, especially regional parties.

Mamata also dismissed the BJP's declaration that the civic polls were fought and won on the basis of development under Adityanath, saying a few months couldn't be enough to make such claims.

"Nothing happens in six months.... These are ridiculous claims.... I challenge you to compete with us on development parameters," she said.

Mamata's statements were in line with the stand of Bahujan Samaj Party supremo Mayawati and Samajwadi Party chief Akhilesh Yadav, four days after he had met her.

The chief minister harped on alleged discrepancies in elections conducted through electronic voting machines. "We want major electoral reforms. We want state-funded elections.... There must be transparency and accountability in the election processes. The things happening with EVMs, we request the Election Commission to thoroughly re-examine the complaints."

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