Kolkata/Birpara: West Bengal Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee and BJP chief Amit Shah on Thursday fired salvos at each other on the last day of the latter's three-day visit to the state where the saffron party wants to expand its footprint after a string of electoral successes.
Banerjee, accused the BJP of trying to "intimidate" her party and declared she would "capture Delhi".
[blurb]"The TMC cannot be browbeaten. We hold our heads high. Those who challenge me....I accept the challenge. We will capture Delhi," she said, addressing a public meeting in Birpara.[/blurb]
On Wednesday Shah proclaimed 'ebar Bangla' and said: "We are here to restore Bengal's lost glory. With many of its leaders involved in corruption, those who voted for TMC feel cheated now. But we are certain the lotus will bloom in 2019. We will solve the problem of unemployment here. TMCâs failure and Mamataâs politics of appeasement has only strengthened our position here.â
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"Such poverty is not there anywhere else in the country," Shah told a meeting of booth-level BJP workers in Kolkata while winding up his three-day visit to the state.
Apparently referring to Shah's visit to a slum in her Bhawanipur constituency in Kolkata on Wednesday, she said, "We don't need lectures from them. BJP is jealous of the development in Bengal and hence states not ruled by BJP were deprived of funds."
[blurb]Banerjee took a dig at Shah, who had lunch in a Dalit household in Naxalbari a couple of days back, saying, "Lunch at a Dalit household and dinner at a five star hotel...we do not believe in such photo-ops."[/blurb]
Renewing her charge that the BJP incited people in the name of religion, she asked the voters to not align with the saffron party.
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"We work for all the religions, castes, communities," she said, alleging that the BJP was "trying to destroy" West Bengal by its "divisive politics".
[blurb]Shah, on the other hand, accused the Mamata Banerjee government of unleashing atrocities on the people in a way "never seen since Independence".[/blurb]
With the political fortunes of Congress and the Left in a free fall, the BJP has been trying to claim their space in the eastern state.
Although BJP's vote share in West Bengal dipped since the 2014 Lok Sabha polls from 17.5 percent to 10.2 percent in the 2016 Assembly polls, the party won three seats for the first time contesting on its own in the state. Earlier it had polled around 4.06 percent votes in 2011.
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In the 2016 Assembly polls, BJP garnered around 56 lakh votes, up from 19.5 lakh in 2011. In the state where the party hardly had any presence a few years ago, its candidates had polled more than 10,000 votes in 262 out of 294 Assembly segments.
(- With PTI inputs)