Business Standard

PM hits out at TMC over Sandeshkha­li incident

Party retorts, citing Brij Bhushan, Bilkis Bano case and Manipur violence


The Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP), after winning 18 seats in the 2019 Lok Sabha election in West Bengal, couldn’t replicate its success in the Assembly polls two years later, with the Trinamool Congress (TMC) securing 48.02 per cent of the vote to the BJP’S 37.97 per cent.

Post-poll studies attributed the surge in support for the TMC to more women, especially poorer women, voting for it.

On Wednesday, the battle for West Bengal’s 42 Lok Sabha seats was renewed. Prime Minister Narendra Modi addressed an “all-women” public meeting of the BJP’S Mahila Morcha in Barasat (80 km from Sandeshkha­li), North 24 Parganas. He accused the West Bengal government of using all its might to save the “oppressor of women”, a reference to suspended TMC leader Sandeshkha­li strongman Sheikh Shahjahan. Modi said the storm in Sandeshkha­li would reach every corner of the state, and also met the alleged victims of Sandeshkha­li. “For me, the mothers and sisters of Bengal rise like Goddess Durga,” he said.

The TMC leadership responded in like manner. In the morning, West Bengal Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee announced her government would increase by ~750 the allowance for the state’s ASHA (accredited social health activists) and aanganwadi workers.

TMC Rajya Sabha memberelec­t Sagarika Ghose said the BJP should “learn from the Bengal model of female empowermen­t”, and pointed out that the party insulted Bengali women by fielding in Asansol Bhojpuri singer Pawan Singh, whose songs “denigrate” Bengali women.

The BJP withdrew Singh’s candidatur­e after the outrage.

The Trinamool accused the BJP of failing to protect the dignity of women in Manipur, of garlanding the rapists of Bilkis Bano, and not taking action against its Lok Sabha member Brij Bhushan Sharan Singh.

Later in the day, Banerjee urged people to join her at a public meeting in Kolkata on Sunday to protect “Bengal’s culture”, its religious harmony and way of life from bohiragoto (the outsiders) and apasanskri­ti.

In the 2021 Assembly polls, Banerjee-led Trinamool defeated the BJP with her “unique appeal to ethno-cultural emotions as banglar meye (daughter of Bengal) or didi ke bolo (talk to Didi) programmes as against bohiragoto (the outsiders), according to academicia­n Kaberi Chakrabart­i.

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