'Outsider' barb not aimed at Hindi-speaking people, they're integral part of WB: TMC leader Vivek Gupta

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By Pradipta Tapadar Kolkata, Apr 24 (PTI) Amid the raging 'insider- outsider' debate in poll-bound West Bengal, TMC's Hindi cell president and senior leader Vivek Gupta asserted that the 'outsider' barb is not directed at the Hindi-speaking residents as they happen to be an integral part of the state.

Gupta, a former Rajya Sabha MP, also clarified that the TMC has branded 'goons coming from other states' as outsider or 'Bohiragato', and the party, during its campaigns, never targeted the non-Bengali population of the state.

In an interview with PTI, Gupta, the ruling party candidate from Joransanko seat, said the 'Hindi-speaking population residing in Bengal adds sweetness' to the state's rich culture and heritage.

'Our party is not against the Hindi-speaking population residing in Bengal. This term 'outsider' is aimed at goons and history-sheeters, who are entering Bengal from other states to disturb the law and order situation. The state's Hindi-speaking population and the Bengalis complement each other well,' he said.

Gupta, the editor of renowned Hindi daily 'Sanmarg', criticised the BJP over its 'divisive politics' and blamed the party for 'creating rift' among people on religious lines.

'Bengal is known for its sweet dishes. The Hindi- speaking population residing here for decades and generations are the sweetener that further sweetens this sweet dish that is Bengal. They are very much a part of this state, and the TMC has never questioned it.

'The BJP is trying to create a rift based on religion and language. This is what they do everywhere. In Bengal, this divide-and-rule policy won't yield any result,' he said.

Quoting excerpts from the Constitution, Gupta said every Indian has the right to go to any part of the country to work and reside there.

'Mamata Banerjee is a seasoned politician; we never said anything about people coming to Bengal from other states.

For us, those visiting Bengal during elections are political tourists. How many times did the prime minister visit the state to enquire about the well-being of its people, barring the period before elections? For us, Bohiragato are people who visit the state to create disturbances,' he said.

Noting that the TMC dispensation has always worked for the welfare of the state's non-Bengali population, he said more than 600 Hindi-medium schools have come up in Bengal in the last 10 years.

'The TMC government has also set up a Hindi university. Please show me how many Hindi universities the Centre has built over the years. There are 70 lakh Hindi- speaking voters in the state. Why would the TMC want to antagonise them for no reason,' he stated.

Gupta further said that he is 'overwhelmed' with the response he and his party have received from the voters in central Kolkata's Jorasanko constituency.

Asked if the infighting within the party -- after denial of tickets to sitting MLA Smita Bakshi and former legislator and now BJP member Dinesh Bajaj -- would have any impact on the outcome of the elections, he said the party has weighed all pros and cons before deciding on his candidature.

Gupta, who has been politically active for over a decade, was nominated to the Rajya Sabha in 2012. He was appointed the president of the party's Hindi cell last year.

Talking about his plans for Jorasanko, the TMC candidate said he would strive to develop the area as the cultural and tourism hub of the city.

'You have Jorasakho Thakurbari (the ancestral home of Nobel Laureate Rabindranath Tagore) here, and many other historical places. I would try to develop the place as the cultural hub of the city,' he said.

Jorasakho assembly constituency will go to the polls on April 29 during the last phase of elections. PTI PNT RMS RMS