In rallies in West Bengal, Yogi attacks Trinamool, calls it ‘soft on terrorism’

Yogi Adityanath and J.P. Nadda address rallies in Baharampur but remain silent on the Congress MP

Updated - May 01, 2024 10:13 am IST

Published - May 01, 2024 03:39 am IST - Kolkata

Uttar Pradesh Chief Minister Yogi Adityanath at an election rally in Asansol on Tuesday. 

Uttar Pradesh Chief Minister Yogi Adityanath at an election rally in Asansol on Tuesday.  | Photo Credit: PTI

As campaigning picked up for Baharampur Lok Sabha seat in the heart of West Bengal, the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) leaders refrained from making any direct attack on the sitting Congress MP and West Bengal Congress president Adhir Ranjan Chowdhury.

Over the past three days, two key leaders of BJP — party president J.P. Nadda and Uttar Pradesh Chief Minister Yogi Adityanath — held rallies in the constituency but did not speak of the Congress MP.

Addressing an election rally at Baharampur, Mr. Adityanath raised the issue of violence during the Ram Navami procession on April 17. “Had such incidents taken place in Uttar Pradesh, I would have taught the perpetrators such a lesson that their next seven generations would not have dared to even think of doing any such thing,” he said.

He also alleged that there was a demographic change across several constituencies of West Bengal, targeting the Trinamool Congress government over it.

On Sunday, while addressing an election meeting at Baharampur, Mr. Nadda alleged that the Mamata Banerjee government was a “terrorist sympathiser” and wanted a Central government that was “soft on terrorism”.

Murshidabad, according to the 2011 census, has about 66% Muslim population; it has three Lok Sabha seats — Jangipur, Murshidabad and Baharampur. Mr. Chowdhury, who has defended Baharmpore five times, is facing one of the biggest electoral challenges of his career. “They will target me only if there are any allegations,” he said of the BJP and its backstep.

In the 2019 Lok Sabha polls, Mr. Chowdhury won the seat with a margin of over 80,000 votes. In the 2014 Lok Sabha polls, he managed a victory by margin of over 3.5 lakh votes.

Mr. Chowdhury is facing Trinamool Congress candidate and former cricketer Yusuf Pathan and BJP’s Nirmal Saha. Dr. Saha, once a physician to the State Congress president, said the BJP leaders were not targeting Mr. Chowdhury as his acceptance among the masses had decreased.

Not only was the BJP silent on Mr. Chowdhury, but the Congress leader was also soft on targeting the BJP, he said, blaming the Trinamool for the rise of the BJP in the State.

The Trinamool Congress leadership, including Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee and party general secretary Abhishek Banerjee, had often accused the Congress leader of being the BJP’s “Trojan horse”.

The last Assembly elections in Murshidabad in 2021 saw Trinamool Congress winning 18 out of 22 Assembly seats in the districts while four seats went to the BJP.

The Congress, which is contesting from Baharampur and Jangipur, and CPI(M) from Murshidabad were hoping that the voters would not be polarised on religious lines like in 2021. The BJP had put up a high-pitched campaign hoping that a split in Muslim votes would help their candidates. For the Trinamool, its well-oiled organisation and the support of minorities would be put to test this election.

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