Bankura/Asansol: BJP’s prime ministerial candidate Narendra Modi yesterday attacked the Election Commission for “failing to prevent rigging and violence” in several states and lashed out at West Bengal Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee, saying the “royal Bengal tiger” was “sinking in corruption”.
In a strong verbal assault on the commission, which has drawn flak from the state’s opposition parties on the conduct of the April 30 balloting in nine Lok Sabha constituencies in West Bengal, Modi said the panel should work without bothering about “which government has appointed it”.
Addressing two election rallies at Bankura and Asansol, Modi assailed Banerjee on a host of issues, including the chit fund scam, infiltration from Bangladesh, and atrocities on women, and returned her barb that he was only a “paper tiger”, asking why she was so afraid of a “paper tiger”.
Modi took on the poll panel in Burdwan district’s Asansol, which will go to the hustings on May 7.
“I know there was rampant rigging in the April 30 polls. Will this game continue? The commission has failed to prevent rigging, violence in these areas,” he said.
Modi said he had mentioned some seats in Uttar Pradesh where bogus voting took place, but the panel had failed to do anything.
“I am saying again in these areas in Bengal, Bihar and eastern UP, the same thing is going to happen. Isn’t it the panel’s responsibility to ensure free polls, sans rigging? Without violence? So much is being spent on the polls...”
Alleging that “false cases” were being slapped against his party’s candidate from Asansol, Babul Supriyo, Modi reminded the commission that it was its duty to protect the citizens.
“The entire machinery is in your hands... you have more power than even the prime minister. Then why aren’t you doing your duties?”
Targeting Banerjee, Modi said: “You are talking about the tiger. If you had put Saradha chit fund culprits in jail, conducted a probe and ensured the poor got their money back, then I would have admitted you are a tiger.”
“A tiger never tries to save thieves and looters.”
“What kind of government do you have and what kind of laws are there when anyone can open a company, take blessings of leaders, click four photos with leaders, and pick people’s pockets to run a chit fund and loot lakhs? And those in the government are clapping.”
The Saradha scandal came to light last year after the group closed shop unable to pay back its depositors — mostly poor people who had parked their savings lured by the promise of high returns.
One Trinamool MP is behind bars in the case while a Lok Sabha candidate has been grilled.
Referring to the alleged teacher recruitment scam in Bengal, Modi said he had given jobs to over 100,000 candidates as primary school teachers in Gujarat “without a whiff of corruption”.
“What is the reason that the royal bengal tiger is sinking in corruption? Didi has given you scam Bengal,” he said.
Accusing Banerjee of “serving” Bangladeshi infiltrators and neglecting youths in her state, he alleged that the Congress and the Left were in league with her on this issue.
Seeking to make a distinction between infiltrators and refugees from Bangladesh, Modi said while those who force themselves into India illegally would have to go back, people driven out from the neighbouring nation because of their religion would be welcomed.
Drawing parallels with Gujarat, Modi pilloried Banerjee for “her failure” to curb crimes against women despite being a woman.
“We worship Shakti in Gujarat during Navratri as you do in Bengal during Durga puja. But in my state, during the nine days of Navratri, a woman can go anywhere alone on her scooty without any fear even at 2 am,” he said.
“Where there is a paper tiger, daughters are safe... Then why is your state, as per central government statistics, among the three states known for maximum atrocities against women,” Modi asked.
Modi said if there was a strong government in Delhi, then Banerjee will also have to stop her drama and run the government seriously.