A day after Union home minister Amit Shah welcomed seven Trinamool Congress (TMC) legislators, including Suvendu Adhikari, and three from other parties to the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) at a rally in Midnapore, where he attacked Bengal’s ruling party and government, the TMC on Sunday hit back with what it called a “fact sheet” on the second day of Shah’s visit to the state.
The TMC and the party’s leader in the Rajya Sabha, Derek O’Brien, put out data on social media to counter Shah’s claims. Shah’s Sunday visit to Visva Bharati, Bengal’s only Central university, which was set up by Rabindranath Tagore, was also criticised by the TMC and Left student unions.
“Shah claimed on Saturday that 300 BJP workers have been killed in Bengal in one-and-a-half years. This is a lie. Many BJP workers are being killed in faction feuds. Even suicides are being passed off as political killings. Fact is that since 1998, 1,027 TMC workers have been killed,” said senior TMC leader Subrata Mukherjee.
On Saturday, Shah defended Adhikari, who was branded by the TMC as a traitor. “Didi (Mamata Banerjee), didn’t you leave the Congress and came to the TMC? Wasn’t it changing allegiance,” Shah said.
“Mamata Banerjee did not leave the Congress to join another party. If a Union minister tried to sell off the history of our country one needs to protest. Banerjee was not a defector. She set up the TMC, a new party, in 1998,” said Mukherjee.
“Shah also claimed that people in Bengal do not get benefits under the Centre’s Ayushmann Bharat healthcare scheme. He does not know the facts. Banerjee started the Swasthya Sathi programme two years before Ayushmann Bharat was launched. Under this scheme, 1.4 crore families have been provided health insurance that covers expenses up to ₹5 lakh per annum,” said Mukherjee.
“Shah claimed that farmers in Bengal are deprived of ₹6,000 per annum under the Prime Minister’s central scheme. Reality is that Bengal provides farmers annual assistance of ₹5,000 per acre under the Krishak Bandhu programme. The central scheme provides only ₹1,214 per acre,” said Mukherjee.
“Shah had food at a villager’s home on Saturday and said the house was provided under the Prime Minster Awas Yojna scheme,” said Mukherjee.
“The Centre pays 60% of the money under this scheme while the state pays the rest. Between 2011-2020, the state has built 33,87,000 houses costing ₹39,993 crore. Under the state’s own Geetanjali Prakalpa, 3,90,000 houses were built at an expense of ₹3,550 crore. Under the Housing for All scheme, 4,30,000 houses were built. This cost the state exchequer another ₹7,000 crore,” said Mukherjee.
During the day, chief minister Mamata Banerjee condemned the Centre’s move to send three Indian Police Service officers to other states. These officers were in charge of the security of BJP national chief JP Nadda’s convoy that was stoned in South 24 Parganas district on December 10.
TMC leaders said chief ministers from non-BJP-ruled states had called up Banerjee and expressed their solidarity with her on this issue.
“Centre is brazenly interfering with State Govt functioning by transferring police officers. My gratitude to @bhupeshbaghel @ArvindKejriwal @capt_amarinder @ashokgehlot51 & @mkstalin for showing solidarity to people of Bengal & reaffirming their commitment to federalism. Thank you!” tweeted Mamata Banerjee on Sunday.
On Sunday, Shah’s visit to Visva Bharati was also criticised by the TMC.
TMC leaders in Kolkata staged a protest by against placards with images of Shah placed above those of Tagore that were found all over Bolpur town on Friday. This triggered a strong reaction among local residents. Claiming that the TMC had put up the placards to sabotage Shah’s visit, BJP workers quickly removed them.
The Students Federation of India, the students’ wing of the Communist Party of India (Marxist), alleged that students who opposed Shah’s visit to Visva Bharati were pressured by the university authorities to withdraw protest. “When the students refused to comply, the police put two student leaders under house arrest…,” said SFI national general secretary Mayukh Biswas. A police official at said no such action was taken.