Modi, Shah raise corruption heat on TMC

Abhishek Law Kolkata | Updated on March 21, 2021

Ahead of the Assembly polls in West Bengal, the BJP, on Sunday, upped the ante against the ruling Trinamool Congress with Prime Minister Narendra Modi and Union Home Minister, Amit Shah, both hitting the campaign trail and alleging “rampant corruption” in the Trinamool, across a variety of issues.

Shah also oversaw an “election meeting” where he reportedly took up the issue of dissidence over candidate selection and ensured a middle path.

Meanwhile, the State’s ruling party faced yet another setback with its veteran MP – Sisir Adhikari – switching over to the BJP. Sisir’s sons, Suvendu and Soumendu, have already changed loyalties.

Why blame EVMs?

Prime Minister Modi, who held a public rally in Bankura, questioned why Banerjee was raising doubts over the EVM; even before voting was about to begin. The first phase of polls in Bengal will be held on March 27.

He claimed that sensing imminent defeat, the CM was building up her excuse.

Banerjee has, over her last few rallies, alleged possible EVM manipulation. She had claimed the BJP could “create a snag” thereby manipulating the machines. Trinamool workers have been asked to “remain alert” on voting days and “after polls to guard EVMs”. Banerjee has demanded a tally of all VVPAT slips, so there isn’t any rigging of EVMs.

Didi is alleging EVM rigging and manipulation; and this even before elections have begun. She is sensing imminent defeat and is readying an excuse already,” the PM said from a rally in Bankura.

Not just EVMs, the West Bengal Chief Minister even questioned the neutrality and functioning of the Election Commission of India, which drew a sharp response from the latter.

The BJP made its mark in the one-time CPI (M) strongholds of Bankura and Bishnupur Lok Sabha constituencies in the 2019 polls, leading convincingly across tribal; SC, ST and rural constituencies of the region. The sudden surge in support has seen the BJP work towards building an organisation in the district.

Sharpening attack

Meanwhile, the Union Home Minister, who held a separate rally at Egra, in the Purba Midnapore, attacked Banerjee for alleged favouritism towards her nephew, Abhishek Banerjee; and overlooking corruption of her party workers. “This is the difference Didi. You want bhaipo (nephew) as Chief Minister, we want development of the State. In five years, we promise Sonar Bangla,” he said speaking at the rally.

It was at his rally that Sisir Adhikari – once close to Mamata Banerjee and a strong man of the Midnapore region – changed camps.

“My former party pushed me to BJP. They kept threatening me and my family with consequences because Suvendu (his elder son) switched camps. I am now fighting for my honour and the dignity of Midnapore,” Adhikari said.

Relations between the Adhikaris and Trinamool soured after Suvendu switched camps.

It is only a matter of time now that Sisir’s younger son, Dibyendu — also an MP — joins BJP, say political observers.

“Dibyendu will take his call. I have joined BJP,” Sisir said.

Published on March 21, 2021

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