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Opposition's Brigade rally was a tie-up of greed: BJP chief Amit Shah

In a speech peppered with polarising issues, Shah urged supporters to ensure the BJP win 23 of Bengal’s 42 Lok Sabha seats

By Kousik Sen in Malda
  • Published 23.01.19, 1:31 AM
  • Updated 23.01.19, 10:09 AM
  • 2 mins read
  •  
Amit Shah addresses the meeting in Malda on Tuesday. Kousik Sen

Amit Shah sounded the Lok Sabha poll bugle for the BJP in Bengal on Tuesday at a rally in Malda, dubbing the Brigade Parade rally of the Opposition as one of “greed and lust with many prime ministerial aspirants”.

“Out of the 23 (leaders) who addressed the Brigade rally, nine are potential prime ministerial candidates. But we have only one. The rock, Narendra Modi,” the BJP chief told the audience of 1.5 lakh, less than a week after the Brigade meet convened by Bengal chief minister Mamata drew several lakhs.

In his speech peppered with polarising issues like the citizen bill and cows, Shah urged supporters to ensure the BJP wins 23 of Bengal’s 42 Lok Sabha seats, up from 22 he had mentioned last year.

Shah said if the BJP was voted to power in the state, all Hindu refugees would get citizenship, infiltration from Bangladesh would be checked and “not a single cow” would be smuggled to the other side.

“In Gujarat, there’s no syndicate tax but in Didi’s Bengal, you pay it,” Shah said, referring to construction material cartels allegedly backed by some Trinamul leaders.

The crowd at the rally.
The crowd at the rally. Kousik Sen

Shah also criticised Mamata’s decision to pull out of the Centre’s Ayushmaan Bharat health insurance scheme. “Mamatadidi fears if the scheme is implemented, it will raise the Prime Minister’s popularity.”

Shah reminded the Mamata government that unlike last summer’s panchayat polls — overseen by the Bengal poll panel — the Election Commission of India would hold the general election. “The voters of Bengal should remove fear from their minds as this election would be very different from the violent panchayat polls.”

Like other BJP leaders earlier, Shah accused the Mamata government of having tried to scuttle the Malda rally and other party programmes by denying permission.

“Didi, we are not going to stop. If you do not allow me to land, I will address the crowd from the helicopter. You are free to file as many cases as you wish against me,” Shah said.

The allusion was to a row over permission for his chopper to land in Malda on Tuesday. The state government had not allowed the landing at Malda airport on the ground of ongoing repairs, prompting a search for alternative sites. Shah eventually touched down on the helipad of a local resort.

Trinamul dismissed Shah’s speech as a sign of “nervousness” and announced a counter-rally in Malda on January 30.

Mamata has said that every BJP rally in Bengal should be followed by a Trinamul event at the same place soon.

“It is obvious they (the BJP) are very nervous. They know their days are numbered. They are scared. Their speeches are low on facts and poor in taste. They don’t understand the ethos of India. They don’t understand the ethos of Bengal. They are heading towards a big zero,” said Trinamul’s leader in the Rajya Sabha, Derek O’Brien.

After the Malda event, Shah returned to Delhi. Bengal BJP chief Dilip Ghosh said Shah would not attend a rally at Jhargram as planned on Wednesday because doctors had advised rest.

Shah had suffered from swine flu, had been admitted to AIIMS and was discharged on Sunday.

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