If voted to power in WB, BJP will ensure Durga, Saraswati puja held without hindrance: Shah

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(Eds: Adding background) Egra, Mar 21 (PTI) Asserting that the BJP does not believe in vote-bank politics, Union Home Minister Amit Shah, in a jibe at the TMC over its 'appeasement policies', said on Sunday that his party, if voted to power in Bengal, will ensure no curb is imposed on Durga and Saraswati puja.

Shah, during a rally here in Purba Medinipur district, reaffirmed that the BJP will build 'sonar Bangla' over the next five years, propelled by the party's double-engine government at the Centre and the state.

'Under the TMC rule, school teachers in Bengal were beaten up for organising 'Saraswati puja'. The court had to intervene to ensure Durga puja is celebrated in the state. Do you want this government? 'The BJP, after coming to power, will see to it that Durga puja and Saraswati puja are held without hindrance. No one will be stopped from organising any religious festival,' the home minister stated.

At a high school at Dhulagarh in Howrah district, Saraswati Puja could not be organised in 2017 following communal violence in the area.

The West Bengal government imposed restrictions on Durga idol immersion in 2017 on the Vijaya Dashami day and said no immersion would be allowed the next day, when Muharram would have been observed, to prevent any untoward incident.

The Calcutta High Court later cancelled the order.

He accused the Mamata Banerjee government of 'encouraging infiltration' in Bengal.

Belittling Banerjee's monthly compensation promise of Rs 500 for every underprivileged person in the general category, Shah also sought to know if TMC leaders would seek 'cut-money or commission' from the beneficiaries.

'The TMC men demand their share for every 5 anna (paise). I wonder if those close to 'bhaipo' (CM's nephew Abhishek Banerjee) would seek cut-money before doling out Rs 500 every month to the general-category residents,' he said.

The home minister also cautioned people against violence and aggression during the elections.

'You (people) know very well what all happened during the panchayat polls in 2018. No one was allowed to exercise franchise. Votes were replaced with bombs,' he pointed out.

Claiming that over 130 BJP functionaries have been murdered in Bengal in the recent times, he said 'We will hunt down the killers from under the ground.' Shah also said that his party, if allowed to form government in Bengal, will implement the seventh pay commission, 'as we know this has been a long-standing demand of state government employees here.' Alleging that TMC chief wants her nephew and Lok Sabha MP Abhishek Banerjee to be the next chief minister', Shah said, 'Do you want that or do you wish to live in 'Sonar Bangla' that PM Narendra Modi has promised to build.' In a bid to woo the women voters, he assured 33 per cent reservation for them in government services.

'Our government will give farmers Rs 10,000 every year, in addition to the funds provided by the Centre. Also, fishermen will be given Rs 6,000 each. People will get health insurance up to Rs 5 lakh under the Ayushman Bharat scheme. Mamata didi could never dish out such benefits,' Shah added. PTI SUS RMS NN NN