(Eds: With additional inputs) Purulia, Mar 18 (PTI) Excoriating Mamata Banerjee for pursuing 'appeasement and vote bank politics', and presiding over a corrupt administration, Prime Minister Narendra Modi Thursday said her game will be over (khela shesh hobe) when votes for the assembly elections are counted on May 2.
Attempting to counter the TMC's core poll plank of Bengali sub-nationalism, Modi harped on the issue of national security and wondered whether the TMC supremo's stand on the 2008 Batla House encounter and the Pulwama attack of 2019 was driven by her 'politics of appeasement'.
Banerjee had questioned the timing of the Pulwama attack which occurred ahead of the Lok Sabha election and described the Batla House encounter as fake.
Addressing an election rally here in the tribal Jangalmahal region of the state, he alleged the ruling TMC never considered Dalits, backwards and Adivasis its own, and these sections were the worst victims of cut money culture and 'Tolabaji' (extortion) by the state's ruling party.
He also accused the Banerjee government of patronising underground Maoist rebels who loot public money.
'The single-most important reason for infiltration is appeasement and vote bank politics being pursued by Didi's government,' he told a well-attended public meeting.
'On May 2, the day the votes for assembly elections will be counted, Didi's 'khela shesh hobe, vikas shuru' (her game will be over and development will start),' he said, in a sarcastic reference to the West Bengal chief minister's 'Khela Hobe' (the game will happen) slogan that she chants at all her election rallies.
Modi repeatedly accused Banerjee, the ruling TMC supremo, of appeasing a section of people for vote bank politics.
'People of Bengal have a strong memory. Bengal remembers who accused the army of plotting a coup, whose side you took during the Pulwama attack and the Batla House encounter,' he said.
In a speech peppered with sentences in Bengali in the largely rural region, Modi said the Mamata Banerjee government and the Left Front dispensation before her stalled its economic development.
While the TMC government was busy 'playing its khela', the tribal region slipped deeper into penury, industries were not allowed to be set up, and as its water woes compounded, farming became a difficult proposition, forcing people to migrate in search of jobs.
'The TMC never considered Dalits, backwards and adivasis its own, and these sections were the worst victims of cut money culture and 'Tolabaji' (extortion) by the state's ruling party,' he alleged.
Modi scoffed at Banerjee's 'Khela Hobe' battle cry.
'Didi says khela hobe, BJP says jobs will happen; Didi says khela hobe, BJP says development will happen; Didi says khela hobe, BJP says education will happen; Didi says khela hobe, BJP says empowerment of women will happen. BJP says you will get pucca houses and clean piped water connection,' Modi said, as he reached out to the people of the parched region.
'The TMC has created a new breed of Maoists in Bengal who loot public money. The money meant for poor people. Didi's government has patronised Maoist violence,' he alleged.
Naxalite outfits held sway over large parts of Jangalmahal for several decades.
Accusing Mamata Banerjee of presiding over a corrupt administration, the prime minister said even relief sent by the Centre to the state during the COVID-induced lockdown got swindled.
Referring to a slew of central schemes like Ayushman Bharat, which the TMC government is yet to implement, Modi said, 'We believe in Direct Benefit Transfer (DBT) while TMC believes in Transfer My Commission.' He said no work gets done without cut money and commission.
'Cut money, tolabaji (extortion) have hurt the poor and the Adivasis the most. We sent cheap rice for the poor.
TMC's tolabaj did not even spare that. We gave free rice during the lockdown but TMC indulged in corruption,' he said.
'The TMC government has given Purulia only water crisis, forced migration and administration that discriminates,' he alleged, and promised rapid industrialisation of the region once the BJP formed its government in West Bengal to check migration in search of livelihood.
The tribal Purulia district will go to poll in the first phase on March 27. The TMC had bagged seven of the nine assembly segments in 2016. A resurgent BJP had won the lone Lok Sabha seat in 2019.
Reacting to Modi's speech, senior TMC leader Firhad Hakim said the prime minister has no other issue to raise, and so is banking on old issues to counter the ruling party of the state.
'It seems the prime minister does not have any issue at hand and that is why he is now digging up the old issue of Pulwama and Batla house encounter,' he said. PTI PNT SK NN NN