Sushil thanks Bengal
Bihar deputy chief minister and BJP leader Sushil Kumar Modi “thanked” Bengal for providing jobs to people from his state and giving them due respect at a rally organised by the party on Sunday.
The thanksgiving drew the entire attention of the rally that the BJP organised as part of its attempt to attack the Mamata Banerjee government in Bengal ahead of Lok Sabha polls.
“I thank the state of West Bengal for providing adequate job opportunities to the Biharis, who live here with respect,” the BJP leader said at the rally in Andul in Howrah.
Sushil Modi is among the leaders the Bengal BJP has lined up to address rallies across all 38 organisational districts of the party in the state. The rally blitzkrieg was launched by BJP national president Amit Shah at his public meeting in Malda on January 22.
“Biharis are not kicked out of Bengal like in some other states,” said Sushil Modi, willy-nilly endorsing Mamata’s claim that Bengal has always embraced migrants from other parts of the country.
Thousands of migrant workers, mostly from Uttar Pradesh and Bihar, had fled Gujarat in October last year. The exodus was triggered by a backlash following alleged involvement of a Bihari in the rape of a 14-month-old girl in Sabarkantha district.
Mamata had expressed concern over the attack and claimed that unlike Gujarat, migrant workers from Bihar were safe in Bengal.
Trinamul leaders were quick to respond to Sushil Modi’s comments on Bengal. “It is good that somebody in the saffron camp has acknowledged that democracy prevails in Bengal. Unlike in the BJP-ruled Gujarat, we do not kick out Biharis. Bengal has been accommodating people from across the country, including Bihar. It has been our culture for ages,” Trinamul general secretary and urban development minister Firhad Hakim said.
The comments by Modi and the Trinamul reaction caught the Bengal BJP off guard.
None in the BJP wanted to talk about Sushil Modi’s comments on record, but a leader said in private that the Bihar deputy chief minister should have been careful in his speech.
“Although he spoke about lack of democracy in Bengal, his praise for the state drew all the attention,” said the BJP leader.
In his speech, Sushil Modi said Mamata’s regime in Bengal was like the “Lalu Prasad raj in Bihar”.
“Development has taken a backseat under the governments of both the Left and Trinamul in this state. In contrast, see how we have transformed Bihar in the last 10 years. Given a chance to rule Bengal, the BJP will transform Bengal too,” Sushil Modi said.
Two BJPs: O’Brien
In Bhubaneswar, Trinamul Congress MP Derek O’Brien on Sunday referred to a “BJP within the BJP” and urged all parties to take on strongly the BJP led by Amit Shah and Narendra Modi, reports our special correspondent in Odisha.
“My request to all parties is this: when you take the BJP on, take them on strong. Take the BJP and Mr Amit Shah and Mr Modi…. I won’t even say it’s the BJP. It’s Mr Modi and Amit Shah’s BJP. Because there’s also another BJP within the BJP. So I urge: do it the Trinamul way, if you take the BJP, Amit Shah and Narendra Modi’s BJP on, take them on strongly. Take them on in your state and take them on in the Centre,” the Rajya Sabha member said.
On the Opposition’s possible candidate for Prime Minister, O’Brien said: “Don’t worry about who will be Prime Minister…. There is a lot of mature leadership there (in the Opposition alliance) with so much of experience. The goal is the same: united India.”