Nadda flags BJP's 'Rath Yatra' sans police nod, slams Mamata for aversion to 'Jai Shri Ram'

·6-min read

By Supratik Sengupta (Eds: collates related stories) Nabadwip/Malda (WB), Feb 6 (PTI) Thumbing his nose at the West Bengal government, a defiant BJP president J P Nadda Saturday flagged off his party's 'Parivartan Yatra' in West Bengal without police permission, and asserted the people have decided to say 'ta-ta' to the Mamata Banerjee government in the assembly elections.

He also accused the TMC government of politicising the administration, criminalising police and institutionalising corruption.

'Jai Shri Ram!' slogans greeted the leader wherever he went during his day-long trip to the election-bound state, and Nadda used it to the hilt to link it to India's cultural identity and attack Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee.

With the BJP and the Modi government under attack from an unsparing opposition over the anti-farm law stir, he ate the humble khichdi seated on the floor with farmers and castigated Banerjee for depriving them of the benefits of the PM Kisan Scheme for over two years just to 'satisfy her ego'.

Claiming that the TMC's slogan of 'Maa, Mati, Manush' (mother, motherland and people) has been reduced to 'dictatorship, tolabaji (extortion) and (Muslim) appeasement,' Nadda said the state's ruling dispensation betrayed the trust people had reposed in it.

Addressing a rally before flagging of the 'Rath Yatra' at Nabadwip, the birthplace of Bengal's 15th century iconic saint Chaitanya Mahaprabhu, he alleged only the ruling TMC leaders benefited under Mamata Banerjee and even funds meant for relief in the aftermath of cyclone Amphan and the COVID-19 crisis were misappropriated by them.

Police in Nadia district, where Nabadwip is located, said permission was granted only for Nadda's public rally and not the Rath Yatra as a PIL was pending with the Calcutta High Court against it.

'We have provided no objection for the public rally of J P Nadda. But no permission has been given for the so-called Rath Yatra as the matter is sub-judice,' a senior police official said.

The PIL filed on Wednesday has sought the court's intervention to stop the Rath Yatra, claiming it will adversely impact the COVID-19 situation and law and order.

While speaking at the public rally in Nabadwip and also during his address to farmers in Malda, Nadda raked up the issue of Banerjee's anger over chants of 'Jai Shri Ram', which he linked to the country's culture.

'Why does she hate 'Jai Shri Ram' slogan so much? Is it wrong to connect with the culture of one's own country? They (the TMC) want to negate the country's culture for the sake of vote-bank politics,' he said.

Banerjee had declined to speak at the event to celebrate Netaji Subhas Chandra Bose's birth anniversary where 'Jai Shri Ram' slogans were raised in the presence of Prime Minister Narendra Modi at Kolkata's Victoria Memorial on January 23.

Nadda claimed the ruling TMC remembered the iconic freedom fighter from Bengal only after Modi began recalling his contributions glowingly.

'You (Mamata) had forgotten Subhas Chandra Bose these years. You were in the Congress but did nothing to celebrate his legacy,' he said.

Nadda alleged TMC functionaries 'stole and ate up' funds provided by the Centre for relief during the cyclone and COVID-19 pandemic.

'Central funds were usurped by TMC leaders. Foodgrains and even tarpaulin sheets were stolen and recovered from the houses of TMC functionaries.

'When the high court asked you to get the relief accounts audited by the CAG, you moved the Supreme Court against the order. Instead of standing for honesty and transparency, you sought to shield corruption,' the BJP leader alleged.

Talking about the insider-outsider debate started by Banerjee in the run up to the assembly elections likely in April-May, the BJP chief said the state leadership of his party will protect the culture of West Bengal and steer it to progress.

'The Mamata Banerjee government has politicised administration, criminalised police and institutionalised corruption,' he alleged.

Nadda later flagged off an improvised 'Rath' as part of the BJP's 'Parivartan Yatra' to bring about a change 'not only of government but also the thought process' in Nabadwip.

The BJP chief said Union Home Minister Amit Shah will inaugurate two of the other four 'Rath Yatra' slated later this month. These yatras, according to BJP sources, will crisscross all 294 assembly constituencies.

Earlier in the day, Nadda unleashed a charm offensive as he courted farmers in Malda, over a thousand kilometers away from the restive borders of the national capital where peasants are protesting for the repeal of three farm laws enacted by the Modi government.

On a day when farmer unions organised a 'chakka jam' in support of their demand, Nadda was wooing agriculturists with promises of welfare and sharing lunch with them at a community feast.

He mocked Banerjee, one of the prominent voices against the new farm laws, for belatedly agreeing to implement the PM Kisan Samman Nidhi Yojana.

The BJP leader said she did so only after realising that her party was fast losing ground among the farmers in the state.

'What Mamatadi did to the farmers of Bengal by depriving them of the benefits of PM Kisan Scheme was an injustice. Due to her whims and to satisfy her ego, Mamata ji did not allow the scheme to be implemented in the state. This has affected over 70 lakh farmers who for the last two years have been deprived of annual aid of Rs 6,000,' he said.

Nadda was addressing a rally of farmers during the last phase of the month-long 'Krishak Suraksha Abhiyan' and 'Ek Mutthi Chawal' campaign which he had flagged off in order to mobilise the farming community in the state in favour of the BJP.

The programmes were also a part of BJP's outreach to farmers to blunt the opposition's charge that the ruling party and the Modi government were 'anti-farmer' following farm protests at Delhi's border points.

Nadda said the prime minister recently inaugurated the 100th Kisan Rail, an initiative that will help farmers transport their produce anywhere in the country with great ease. Lauding the Modi government for its pro-farmer policies, the BJP leader said, it ensured that they got 1.5 times more than the input cost for their produce under the MSP regime.

'Today, after about 25 lakh farmers of Bengal sent applications for securing the benefits of PM Kisan Samman Nidhi scheme to the central government, Mamata ji is saying she will implement it. Mamata ji, elections are round the corner. Now, it's too late,' he said, castigating the chief minister.

Nadda said the state's people have made up their mind to bid 'namaste and ta-ta' to Banerjee and her party after the assembly polls.

Amid chants of 'Jai Shri Ram', Nadda also led a road show in Malda.

Standing atop a decorated lorry with Dilip Ghosh and others, he showered jubilant supporters with marigold petals and waved to enthusiastic crowds that gathered along the 1 km stretch between Foara More and Guru Rabindranath Tagore's statue.

People watched the procession from rooftops and balconies and were seen shooting videos with their mobile phones.

The streets were lined with BJP's flags and buntings as the cavalcade inched its way through the narrow and crowded streets. PTI SUS/PNT BDC SK SK SK