The BJP on Monday activated its entire Bengal unit and a set of its top national leaders to counter the Trinamul Congress's narrative of depriving the state of central funds on a day Mamata Banerjee's party hit the streets of the national capital against the Narendra Modi government on the matter.
BJP MLAs headed by the leader of the Opposition, Suvendu Adhikari, sat on a dharna in the Bengal Assembly and hit the streets of Calcutta. State BJP president Sukanta Majumdar, along with three senior leaders, flew to Delhi to counter Trinamul's narrative with the charge of corruption by the state government and the claim of an increase in the allocation of funds by the Narendra Modi government for Bengal compared to the erstwhile UPA regime.
Union rural development minister Giriraj Singh and sports minister Anurag Thakur also held news conferences in Bihar's Begusarai and New Delhi, respectively, to mount an attack on Bengal's ruling dispensation.
"Trinamul is trying to pitch its narrative over our allegation of corruption. Our goal is to remind the people of Bengal of the overall corruption that took place in Bengal starting from anomalies in central schemes, including the MGNREGA, and the recruitment of teachers. If Trinamul turned successful in spreading the narrative of deprivation in the rural belt, it would be a tough battle for the BJP to bag targetted seats in the state," said a BJP leader in Calcutta.
Several political observers in Bengal also believed that Trinamul's narrative would give the party political dividends before the Lok Sabha polls next year over the BJP's narrative of corruption.
"The politics depends on the perception that is built up by relentless campaigning among the people. As the Opposition parties, including the BJP, had a poor organisation at the grassroots, Trinamul would be able to reach out to a larger community with its narrative of deprivation easily and it would help Trinamul in the Lok Sabha polls 2024," said political scientist Biswanath Chakraborty.
"Trinamul leaders looted thousands of crore of different central government funds starting from the MGNREGA to the Pradhan Mantri Awas Yojana. They prepared a list of fake benefits and ate up the money that was sent for the benefit of the poor. Our fight is to ensure the punishment of those involved in corruption with the central funds. We demand a CBI probe in this connection to arrest all Trinamul leaders and government officials associated with the anomalies," Adhikari said at the Assembly where the BJP MLAs sat on a dharna on Monday.
He alleged that the embezzled central funds would be approximately Rs 13,000 crore. Adhikari also took part in a march on Monday afternoon in Calcutta raising slogans against Trinamul's alleged corruption before paying tribute to the Gandhi Statue on Mayo Road. The women's wing of the BJP had sat on a dharna near the statue earlier in the day to raise the charges of torture of women in Bengal and corruption.
State BJP president Sukanta Majumdar, accompanied by senior leaders Locket Chatterjee and Jyotirmoy Mahato, held a press conference at the party's headquarters in Delhi and took the same line as Adhikari to attack the Mamata Banerjee government.
Among with 600-odd elected Trinamul representatives, four MLAs who had won on BJP tickets and later joined Trinamul, took part in the protest at Rajghat on Monday, resulting in a fresh embarrassment for the BJP.
Trinamul has said even the "BJP" MLAs had joined their protest.
Krishna Kalyani of North Dinajpur's Raiganj, Tanmoy Ghosh of Bankura's Bishnupur, Suman Kanjilal from Alipurduar and Biswajit Das of North 24-Parganas's Bagda had won the 2021 Assembly polls on BJP tickets but latter joined Trinamul.
"This is not a protest against the Centre. We have come here to claim the demand of poor people of Bengal," Krishna Kalyani told reporters.