Union home minister Amit Shah on Wednesday at his mega rally at Espalande here read out from jottings the details of funds allotted by the Narendra Modi government for Bengal and compared this allotment to that of the UPA government as one of his moves to counter the narrative of deprivation pitched by Mamata Banerjee's party.
Setting the tone of the BJP's Lok Sabha poll campaign in the state, Shah said: "Mamata didi (chief minister Mamata Banerjee) always asked me what Modiji did for Bengal. I think you (Mamata) are certainly listening to my speech. I brought a clear account of what Modi ji did for the people of Bengal. Listen to these carefully."
Then, Shah started reading out a series of amounts and names of the schemes of central funds allotted for Bengal during nine years of Modi's rule at the Centre.
"Modiji gives lakhs of crores to Bengal, Trinamul's syndicate-raj does not allow those to reach the poor people here," Shah alleged before a crowd of around 60,000.
Shah landed in Calcutta on Wednesday to address the mega rally, which was organised by the BJP's Bengal unit to counter Trinamul's narrative of deprivation of central funds with the saffron camp's narrative of corruption and malpractices by the Trinamul-led state government.
Shah gave the crowd numbers to compare funds allotted by the Modi government in the past nine years with that in 10 years of the UPA government that Mamata's Trinamul supported.
"The UPA government that you (Mamata) supported as a cabinet minister and later chief minister of Bengal only sanctioned Rs 2,00,000 crore, Modi ji in his nine years had sanctioned Rs 6,70,000 crore, which is 3.5 times. The UPA allotted Rs 14,000 crore during its tenure, while Modi ji gave Bengal Rs 56,054 crore in the MGNREGA," he said and went on citing the amounts allotted to Bengal under several central schemes such as the Pradhan Mantri Awas Yojana (PMAY) and Pradhan Mantri Gram Sadak Yojana (PMGSY).
Rural development schemes apart, Shah said that the Centre allotted Rs 70,000 crore for national highways in Bengal and another Rs 10,000 crore for railways projects.
“Overall, the Centre allotted more than Rs 8 lakh crore for welfare and development project by the Modi government in the past nine years,” he said.
Shah said that the Narendra Modi government had sanctioned a huge amount for national highways, railways and irrigation.
A BJP source said Shah spoke in such detail on Modi government's allotment of central funds for Bengal because a section of BJP leaders in the state were worried about whether the Trinamul's narrative of deprivation could go against the BJP in the state in the Lok Sabha polls next year. In 2019, the BJP had won an unprecedented 18 Lok Sabha seats in Bengal.
Earlier, the minister of state for rural development Sadhvi Niranjan Jyoti, who parachuted to Calcutta on October 7, had tried to put forth the same data within four days of Trinamul national general secretary Abhishek Banerjee's movement at her office in New Delhi.
"The earlier move by the junior Union rural development minister was apparently not successful and that is why the party had planned a mega show by Shah here in Calcutta. We want to tell people that the Centre did not deprive Bengal. It is Trinamul who looted the money. Hence, the Centre pressed a temporary pause button," said a BJP leader in Calcutta.
Shah, who also lambasted Mamata Banerjee's government over alleged corruption during her tenure, also did not set any number as a target in Lok Sabha polls this time.
On his April 14 rally in Birbhum's Suri, Shah set an audacious target of 35 Lok Sabha seats for Bengal BJP.
However, he said on Wednesday that the BJP would come to power in Bengal with a two-third majority in the 2026 assembly polls
"Mamata didi, do what you like. You won the election (2021 Assembly polls) by rigging but the BJP got 77 seats from zero. After witnessing the huge crowd at today's rally, I want to say that the BJP will get two-thirds of the seats here. However, before that, there will be the 2024 elections. In 2019, you gave us 18 seats. I will urge you to make the BJP win in (such a) number of seats that Modiji should admit that he became the Prime Minister again because of Bengal, in the oath-taking ceremony," said Shah.
He slammed Mamata again over "corruption".
"Bengal's name was tarnished in the country over corruption by Mamata Banerjee government. Joyti Priya Mallick (former food and current forest minister), Anubrata Mondal (Birbhum district president), and Partha Chatterjee (former education minister) looted money through cattle smuggling, coal smuggling…. I challenge Mamata Banerjee if she has enough courage to suspend these three leaders. She can't do so. Now she is praying before goddess Durga so that the trio do not expose the name of her nephew (Trinamul general secretary and MP Abhishek Banerjee). She can't bring Bengal out of corruption as she is a part of it," Shah alleged.
Shah also made other charges such as as rigging in elections, post-poll violence and infiltration in Bengal.
The BJP placed drop-boxes near the venue for people left out of central schemes "over Trinamul's irregularities" to drop letters to Modi.
State BJP chief Sukanta Majumder claimed 50,000 letters were dropped in the boxes within hours and they would be "sent to Modiji to show how Trinamul deprived the people of Bengal".
In response, Trinamul leaders also claimed on Wednesday that they had posted 50,000 letters to Shah from different post offices, asking him to release central funds due to Bengal.