Trinamul Congresson Sunday paraded four of five farmers from East Burdwan’s Katwa whose homes BJP national chief J.P. Nadda visited a day before, who claimed loyalty to Mamata Banerjee.
Four farmers swore allegiance to Trinamul at a news meet at the party’s Katwa office in front of MLA Rabindranath Chatterjee, and said the saffron camp misled them.
“We were told the BJP chief will beg for alms from us. It is our rural culture to give alms to anyone asking for it,” said Nitai Mondal, one of the farmers. They went ahead to proclaim they were Trinamul loyalists and would stay so.
On Saturday, Nadda started the Krishak Surakkha Abhijaan in Katwa in support of the three contentious central farm laws. Under this outreach programme, he went to homes of five farmers asking from each a fistful of rice, and lunched at a farmer’s house.
“These poor farmers...told us that if they had known the true intentions of BJP, they would’ve never allowed them entry,” Chatterjee said.
Arun Bhattacharya, the chief priest of Sarbamangala temple in Burdwan, where Nadda had offered prayers before his Saturday roadshow, also said on Sunday that priests were obliged to Mamata as she gave them stipends.
“He (Nadda) had come to offer his prayers and we helped him in it like we would do for any devotee,” the priest said. “As far as I know, the entire community of priests is obliged to our chief minister because she has given us stipends, medical and other benefits. We will be with her always,” he added.
This was not the first instance when people handpicked by the BJP to meet or lunch with their central leaders like Nadda or Amit Shah were shown to be loyal to Mamata by Trinamul — Shah’s lunch hosts Bibhishan Hansda of Bankura and Basudeb Das Baul of Birbhum being cases in point.
BJP’s state general secretary and MP Locket Chatterjee blamed the U-turn on Trinamul’s “politics of fear”. “There is no development in the state and when people started aligning with us Trinamul is forcing them to speak for their party,” she said.
Her party alleged “Trinamul goons” had been attacking their supporters and party offices since Saturday night, and eight BJP supporters were injured at a clash in Shaktigarh.
On Sunday, Trinamul held a 3km rally to counter Nadda’s 1.2km one in Burdwan town. The rally led by Trinamul youth leader and actor Soham covered the 3km from town hall to Golapbagh, compared to Nadda’s 1.2km from Birhata to Curzon gate.