BALAGARH/DOMJUR: Bengal CM Mamata Banerjee on Thursday defended her poll speech at Tarakeswar last Saturday that invited a notice from the Election Commission for urging “minority voters” to avoid a “division” of their votes.
“All I wanted was to keep votes united,” she said in Howrah’s Domjur, a day after the EC sent her a notice. She would not be intimidated by show-cause notices, the Bengal CM added, seeking to know how many complaints the EC had got against PM Narendra Modi’s “communal and divisive speeches”.
Modi had slammed Mamata for her comments, saying he would have got “eight to 10 notices from the EC” had he asked Hindus to unite and vote for BJP.
The EC notice to Mamata came on Wednesday, 24 hours after the PM’s comments. “You all voted for BJP last time. But what has it done other than spreading violence and lies? A cylinder of cooking gas now costs Rs 950. Tell them that you don’t want Rs 1,000 for going to BJP rallies or Rs 500 for casting your vote for BJP; in stead, ask them to give you cooking gas free,” she said, pointing out how India’s economy had slid under the BJP’s watch.
“They are out to sell out railways, coal, SAIL. Where will the youth get jobs?” she asked. The CM also accused the Union home ministry of asking central forces to “intimidate” youths and women. “I am not blaming the central forces.
The ministry of home affairs is responsible. It is directing central force personnel to go around a constituency a day before polling and intimidate youths and women,” she said, exhorting people to file FIRs. “Mothers and sisters, get your hatas and khuntis (ladles and kitchen spuds) ready. File FIRs immediately. Inform us if cops do not register your complaints,” she said in Hooghly’s Balagarh.
Mamata iterated her promise of a monthly payment of Rs 500-Rs 1,000 to housewives, free ration in people’s homes, a students’ credit card with a Rs 10 lakh limit and Rs 10,000 to each student to buy smartphones for online classes.
The CM held up Trinamool Balagarh candidate Manoranjan Byapari as an example of someone who had come up from the grassroots. “He is the chairman of the Dalit Sahitya Academy. He once pulled rickshaws to eke out a living, served as a cook,” the CM said.