The Trinamool Congress on Wednesday said that if the BJP is thinking of winning the Assembly polls in West Bengal next year because of its impressive performance in the Lok Sabha election in 2019, the saffron party is day-dreaming.
Lok Sabha and Assembly elections are different ball games, TMC spokesperson Sukhendu Sekhar Roy said.
Countering the BJP’s assertion that it would introduce the “Gujarat model” for the development of West Bengal, he said that comparative figures of the two states prove that the TMC-ruled state fared better in several key sectors than the one governed by the saffron party.
“Those who are saying that they will win the Assembly polls since they have won 18 seats in the Lok Sabha election are daydreaming,” Mr Roy, a Rajya Sabha MP, said, without naming the BJP.
The BJP won 18 of the 42 Lok Sabha constituencies in West Bengal in the 2019 general elections.
The senior TMC leader said that the Congress had bagged 16 seats from West Bengal in the December 1984 Lok Sabha elections, but it could win only 42 constituencies in the 1987 Assembly polls.
“There is no relation between the Lok Sabha elections and Assembly polls of a state. Such comparisons are laughable,” Mr Roy told a press conference.
Mr Roy said that party supremo Mamata Banerjee”s only agenda is peace and development and people’s welfare. He said that though it is being claimed that the “Gujarat model” will be introduced in West Bengal for its development, the track record of the TMC-ruled state is better than the Western state on several parameters.
BJP state president Dilip Ghosh has recently said that the saffron party will turn Bengal into another Gujarat through various development initiatives to ensure that the youth of the state do not have to go to other parts of the country for jobs.
In the 2019-20 financial year, budgetary allocation on health services rose by 6.3 per cent in West Bengal, while in BJP-ruled Gujarat, it increased by 4 per cent, Mr Roy said.
During the same period, the allocation on education increased in Bengal by 12.3 per cent, while it rose by only 5.3 per cent in the western state, the TMC leader said claiming that these are central government data.
Mr Roy claimed that Bengal performed better than Gujarat also in other areas including the MSME sector and generation of mandays in the MGNREGA project.
“Bengal has 88 lakh medium and small scale enterprises, while Gujarat has only 33 lakh,” he said.
The TMC spokesman alleged that at least 2,000 people were killed and nearly 1.5 lakh people were rendered homeless in just three days in 2002 in Gujarat in the worst case of human rights violation in the country.
With the BJP bringing in a number of national-level leaders to the state ahead of the Assembly election due in April-May next year, Roy claimed that a group of outsiders with their local associates are trying to destabilise the state while Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee established peace and ensured development after coming to power in 2011.
“These outsiders are not aware of Bengal”s legacy, heritage and culture. They are trying to instigate divisive politics,” he alleged.
Mr Roy said that party workers have been asked to keep vigil to see whether “outsiders” are trying to instigate strife or create division among people or indulge in for horse-trading.
Regarding investigations by various central agencies over alleged smuggling of coal and cattle and other issues in the state, he said, “There is nothing new in it. These agencies become active whenever elections come.”
On Suvendu Adhikary holding public meetings for some days without the TMCs banner, Roy said, “He is an important leader and is a member of the party’s highest policy-making body, apart from being a senior minister.”
Mr Adhikary, who played a crucial role in the anti-land acquisition movement at Nandigram that helped Mamata Banerjee’s rise to power in the state, has also been absent in a recent cabinet meeting.
Asked about All India Majlis-e-Ittehadul Muslimeen (AIMIM) planning to contest the Assembly elections in the state, the TMC spokesman said that it is the prerogative of that party but it has no influence in Bengal.