Modi comes to north Bengal only before polls: Mamata

Jalpaiguri: West Bengal Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee on Sunday slammed Prime Minister Narendra Modi for coming to north Bengal only ahead of the elections, and skipping the region when the hills were turbulent.

“Babus of Delhi set fire in the hills and we defused it. You (Modi) had not come to Darjeeling during the days of unrest. Where were the BJP leaders when there were disturbances in the hills,” Banerjee asked while addressing a rally here, hours after Modi spoke at an election meeting in Cooch Behar.

“Now you are coming and seeking votes ahead of the elections. Are you not ashamed? Where were you in the period of unrest? Had you inquired during the days of turbulence in Darjeeling or during the floods in Jalpaiguri, Alipurduar and Cooch Behar,” Banerjee asked, as she again referred to Modi as the “expiry Prime Minister”.

For the major part of 2017, the hills in Darjeeling, Kurseong and Kalimpong witnessed violence and political turmoil over the revived demand for a separate state of Gorkhaland to be curved out of the northern West Bengal hills.

The entire region came to a standstill for 104 days following the longest ever shutdown called by the pro-Gorkhaland outfits.

Banerjee also asked why the people of Bengal would vote for the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP), as “Modi has done nothing for Bengal” and “has not even cleared the proposal for changing the name of the state to Bangla”.

She attacked the BJP for nominating “tainted” candidates such as John Barla from Alipurduar, whom she accused of indulging in “violence and efforts to create division between hills and plains”.

Banerjee also alleged that the saffron party was offering cash to the youth and the people so that they come and join its meetings and rallies.

“They are threatening people and fighting the elections with money power,” she said.

Responding to the Prime Minister describing the Trinamool Congress as “Saradha-Narada” party, Banerjee said: “You had linked the Trinamool with the Saradha chit fund scam in 2014 and with the Narada sting case in 2016. But during today’s rally in Cooch Behar, you shared the stage with persons who were accused in both the cases and are now controlling your meetings.”

Incidentally, BJP leader Mukul Roy, who had jumped ship from the Trinamool to the BJP and was questioned by the central investigation agencies in these cases, was present at Modi’s rally in Cooch Behar earlier in the day.

Amid the controversy over removing senior police officers in the state by the Election Commission, Banerjee claimed that the saffron party will not win the Lok Sabha elections by transferring officers.

“Why the Cabinet Secretary and your Secretary won’t be removed ahead of the elections? There were many allegations against you (Modi),” she said.

Taunting Modi for calling himself a “chowkidar” (watchman), Banerjee wondered whether the Prime Minister knew that many “chowkidars” at the ATMs do not even get their salary regularly.