West Bengal Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee on Thursday said that she will not allow the country to turn into Pakistan or the Taliban.
Alleging that the BJP has claimed the Bhabanipur constituency – from where Ms Banerjee is fighting the upcoming by-poll – will turn into Pakistan if the Trinamool Congress (TMC) wins, Mamata Banerjee accused the BJP of practising divisive politics.
“I don’t like the policies and politics of the BJP. They only follow the politics of dividing people on religious lines. In Nandigram, they had said it would become Pakistan (if the TMC wins). In Bhabanipur too, they are saying it will turn into Pakistan. This is shameful,” Ms Banerjee said while campaigning.
Mamata Banerjee lost to her aide-turned-rival Suvendu Adhikari from Nandigram during the Assembly election held earlier this year. She must win this by-poll to retain her chief minister’s post.
“I want my country to be strong and will protect my motherland with all my might. We don’t want India to become another Taliban (ruled state). I will never allow my country to turn into Pakistan,” she said while talking to the voters in the area.
Criticising the state BJP leadership for taking exception to her recent visit to a mosque in the area, Ms Banerjee said the BJP has a problem with her visiting a Gurudwara too.
“I have visited a mosque; I have visited a Gurudwara also, and the BJP has a problem with both. I don’t bring religion into politics, unlike the BJP leaders who only understand the language of divisive politics,” she said.
On the sizeable Hindi-speaking population of the Bhabanipur constituency, the TMC chief said she would stand by them through thick and thin.
“I never differentiate among communities. It is the BJP which destroys brotherhood and social fabric among communities,” she said.
To woo the area’s business community, the chief minister said she was the first politician in the country to oppose the demonetisation in 2016.
“I was the first to oppose demonetisation. I know the kind of harassment the business community has gone through during demonetisation. I used to regularly visit Burrabazar (the business hub of Kolkata) and talk to the business community members,” she said.
Hitting out at the BJP over its “ploy” to sell off the country’s assets, she said the assets are not the personal property of the BJP.
“The government is trying to sell off the entire country. Railways, airports and ports… They want to sell everything off. Can you sell the soil of the country?” Ms Banerjee asked.
Ms Banerjee said Prime Minister Narendra Modi should speak to the World Health Organisation (WHO) to ensure that Covaxin is recognised so that those who were administered its doses can travel abroad.
Later, the chief minister visited the Laxmi Narayan Temple in the area and offered puja. She was also seen offering ‘Aarti’.
A metropolitan constituency, Bhabanipur is home to a large number of Gujaratis and Sikhs, mostly businessmen.
Ms Banerjee, a resident of the Bhabanipur constituency, had won the seat twice in 2011 and 2016 but contested from Nandigram in 2021 to challenge her protege and now a BJP leader Suvendu Adhikari in his home turf. Though Mamata Banerjee powered the TMC to a resounding win for a third straight term in office, she lost in Nandigram.
Mamata Banerjee is required to win a seat in the state assembly by November 5 in conformity with the constitutional provisions to continue as chief minister of the state.
After her defeat in Nandigram, state cabinet minister and TMC MLA from Bhabanipur Sovandeb Chattopadhyay vacated the seat to allow her to contest the by-poll from there.
The BJP has pitted Priyanka Tibrewal and CPI(M) Srijib Biswas against Mamata Banerjee for the September 30 by-poll. Congress has decided not to field a candidate against her.
he votes will be counted on October 3.