(With additional details and collating stories) Kakdwip/Pailan (WB), Feb 18 (PTI) The political cauldron in poll-bound West Bengal heat up on Thursday with Union Home Minister Amit Shah calling to uproot the 'syndicate raj' of the ruling TMC in the state and Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee challenging him to first defeat her nephew Abhishek and then think of defeating her.
For the first time before the assembly elections, Banerjee and Shah held rallies in the same district on the same day.
The two rallies at Kakdwip and Pailan in South 24 Parganas district, situated about 70 km apart, was held at about same time in the afternoon. While Shah addressed the rally at Kakdwip, the TMC supremo spoke at the one at Pailan.
Banerjee hit out Shah for the frequent 'Bua-hatija' jibes against her and her nephew, TMC MP Abhishek Banerjee and said his family will not go unscathed if he continued to attcak the families of other politicians.
Shah, who also visited Gangasagar, urged the people to 'uproot the syndicate Raj of the TMC' and vote BJP to power to usher in Sonar Bangla (prosperous Bengal) after the assembly poll, which is due in April-May.
Flagging off the saffron party's 'Parivartan Yatra' from Kakdwip, which was the fifth and last leg of BJP's Ratha Yatra in the state, he said it is not for merely changing a chief minister, an MLA or a minister but for ending infiltration and transforming Bengal into a developed state.
'It is not our aim just to usher in a BJP government after defeating Mamata Banerjee's regime. This is BJP's fight to make Bengal Sonar Bangla. This fight is between our booth workers and the TMC syndicate - it is a fight to end the syndicate raj.' 'You (the people) vote for BJP. Leave alone illegal immigrants, not even a bird from across the border will be allowed to enter the state,' Shah said.
Criticising TMC's 'cut money' culture, he said if voted to power BJP will probe the corruption in the disbursal of relief fund in the state post Cyclone Amphan.
'The central government had sent relief and funds after Cyclong Amphan for the affected people. But TMC leaders siphoned off the money. If we are voted to power we will constitute an inquiry committee to probe corruption in the disbursal of the relief funds.
'All those who indulged in the corruption will be sent to jails,' he said.
Shah, the former BJP president, also lashed out at the 'dynastic politics' in TMC and iterated that the West Bengal government has been working only for the welfare for the chief minister's nephew and not for the people.
'The TMC government is only interested in bhatija kalyan (welfare of the nephew). It is not interested in people's welfare,' he said taking a jibe.
He said that if BJP is voted to power it will provide 30 per cent reservation for women in government jobs and teachers fighting for fair remuneration will get justice.
At Pailan, a combative Banerjee said her family will do nothing that will let down the people of the state and challenged Shah to defeat her nephew Abhishek Banerjee before thinking of her.
She mocked at Shah for his claim that BJP will win more than 200 of the 294 assembly seats in the state. 'In 2021 we (TMC) will break all records and get the highest votes and win the most seats'.
'Day in and out, they are talking about Bua-Bhatija. I challenge Amit Shah - contest against Abhishek Banerjee first and then me,' she said amid loud cheers from TMC supporters.
Banerjee challenged Shah to take Abhishek Banerjee's name and said the BJP leader's family will not go unscathed if he continues to attack family members of other politicians.
'Every day, you talk about Bua-Bhatija. What Bhatija? Why don't you name him? What about your son? Your son is also my bhatija. Why don't you let your son join politics and ask him to toil hard to rise through the ranks ?' she asked.
The chief minister said Abhishek Banerjee had the easy option to go to the Rajya Sabha but he chose to fight the Lok Sabha election and had won the the Diamond Harbour seat.
'I have neither made him the deputy chief minister nor the chief minister. He is just an elected MP,' she said and claimed that political rivals had even tried to kill Abhishek Banerjee in an accident.
The fiesty TMC supremo, known for her opposition to the saffron party, said she does not need to learn about Hindu dharma from BJP leaders.
South 24 Parganas district is considered a TMC stronghold as the party won 29 of the 31 assembly seats in 2016. The BJP failed to make a dent in the district in the 2019 general election when it emerged the main opposition in the state.
Shah visited Aurobindo Bhawan in the city later in the evening and paid his tributes to Aurobindo Ghosh, a nationalist, yogi and philosopher. PTI AMR/DC PNT KK KK KK