(With additional inputs and detail of second rally) Goalpokhor/Siliguri, Apr 14 (PTI) In his maiden campaign in poll-bound West Bengal, Congress leader Rahul Gandhi on Wednesday termed BJP's claim to build 'Sonar Bangla'(golden Bengal) as a 'mirage' and said the saffron party has nothing to offer except for hatred, violence and dividing people on the basis of language, religion, caste and creed.
Gandhi also attacked ruling Trinamool Congress, saying his party would never align with the BJP and the RSS, unlike the TMC, which in the past had been an alliance partner of the saffron party-led NDA.
The former Congress president, who attended two rallies in North Bengal in Goalpokor in Uttar Dinajpur and Siliguri, blamed Prime Minister Narendra Modi for failing to control COVID-19 surge in Bengal.
'BJP wants to destroy Bengal's culture, heritage and divide it. In Assam, they are doing the same thing; in Tamil Nadu, they are trying to do the same thing with their alliance partner AIADMK.
'The BJP has nothing to offer except for hatred, violence and divisive politics,' he said.
With Congress having tie-up with the Left Front and fledgling Indian Secular Front of Muslim cleric Abbas Siddiqui, Gandhi targetted both the BJP and the TMC but he was more furious at the saffron party while attack on Mamata Banerjee's party was comparatively low-key.
Though four rounds of voting are over in Bengal, this was the first occasion that a member of the Gandhi family campaigned in the politically significant state.
Rahul Gandhi and Congress General Secretary Priyanka Gandhi Vadra had taken many trips to Assam, where voting in three phases is over, but they remained away from Bengal, which is witnessing a fierce battle of ballots between the TMC and the BJP.
Mocking BJP's slogan of building 'Sonar Bangla', Gandhi termed it as a 'mirage' and said they 'sell the same dream in every state'.
'In every state, they say similar things like Sonar Bangla.
But, they only offer dividing people on the basis of religion, caste and language,' the Congress leader said.
Criticising the 'cut money' culture in Bengal, Gandhi said, 'You gave the opportunity to TMC. But, they failed. People of the state have to venture out in search of jobs. This is the only state where you have to pay cut money to get jobs'.
Ridiculing the TMC poll slogan 'Khela Hobe' (Game will happen), he said serving people and playing games in this regard are not the same.
'We have never aligned with the BJP and the RSS. Our fight is not just political but ideological too. For Mamata Ji, it is just a political fight.
'The BJP knows very well Congress will never surrender before them, so they called for Congress Mukt Bharat. They never said TMC mukt Bharat, as they have been their former allies,' he said.
TMC was a constituent of the NDA during time of former Prime Minister Atal Bihari Vajpayee in whose cabinet Mamata Banerjee had served.
The BJP is not afraid of Banerjee and TMC; he said, 'but they are afraid of Rahul Gandhi and Congress. The BJP knows I will never compromise or surrender before them.' Gandhi urged people to vote in favour of the Congress- ISF-Left alliance in Bengal to usher in a new development era.
Lashing out at PM Modi over COVID situation in the country, the Congress leader said, 'Modiji and the BJP have failed to control coronavirus surge in the country'.
'This central government is not bothered about whether you have jobs or lost it. This government is just bothered about a few industrialists and their profit,' he said.
Slamming the TMC government for failing to provide jobs, Gandhi said the state government had done nothing for the development.
The TMC retorted Gandhi for making comments without being aware of the ground realities.
'We don't need lessons from Rahul Gandhi on how to combat BJP and RSS. Its the TMC which is fighting against the BJP in Bengal,' TMC MP Sougata Roy said. PTI PNT SNS SNS