KOLKATA: Asserting that there is no dearth of leaders in her party who can become the chief minister of West Bengal, Trinamool Congress candidate Mamata Banerjee on Thursday urged people to vote for her in the Bhabanipur by-poll if they want her to continue at the helm of the state government.
Speaking at a public meeting for the September 30 by-election, the state chief minister asked the people of the Bhabanipur assembly constituency in south Kolkata to cast their votes even if it rains on the day of polling.
Heavy rain has been occurring in the state for the last four months, Banerjee said.
“My party has the majority. There is no dearth of people who can become the chief minister. But if you want me to continue, bless me with your votes…Even if cyclone or tornado comes, come and cast your vote,” she said addressing the gathering.
The chief minister said allegations made by the BJP that she does not allow holding of Durga Puja or Laxmi puja in West Bengal were not true.
“I want to ask the BJP to answer before asking for votes in Bhabanipur, why Section 144 (CrPC) has been imposed in Tripura, imposing restrictions on Durga puja, Navratri, Laxmi Puja celebrations there,” she said, asserting that she never does such things.
The Tripura government recently informed the high court there that prohibitory order under Section 144 CrPC has been imposed in the Sadar subdivision of West Tripura district, under which state capital Agartala falls, from September 21 till November 4 as part of the precautionary measure to prevent the third wave of the pandemic.
The TMC postponed its proposed rally led by party general secretary Abhishek Banerjee after the court denied permission to hold it.
The TMC supremo, who has been visiting temples, gurdwaras and mosques within the constituency since filing nomination papers for Bhabanipur, which has a mixed linguistic and religious demography, began her campaign on Thursday evening by offering obeisance at the Jain temple in Chakraberia.
“India starts from Bhabanipur as B stands for Bhabanipur, Bharat Mata and Bharat Varsh,” she said.
Stating that she had faced physical attacks while fighting the CPI(M) during its three-decade-long rule, Banerjee said she was injured during her campaign at Nandigram during the assembly election held earlier this year and was forced to canvass for the party on a wheelchair for one-and-a-half months.
Banerjee had lost the election in Nandigram by a narrow margin to her former aide Suvendu Adhikari of the BJP, who is now the leader of the opposition in the West Bengal assembly.
The Nandigram election is however subject to an ongoing court challenge.
The Bhabanipur seat was vacated by winning MLA Sobhandeb Chattopadhyay to make way for his party leader.
At the meeting, Banerjee said she had gone to fight from Nandigram in support of farmers who were demanding repeal of three farm laws enacted by the Centre.
She said that it is good that she has got the opportunity to fight from Bhabanipur and that the chief minister will be from this constituency only.
Referring to top national-level saffron party leaders campaigning in West Bengal during the eight-phase assembly elections, she said the BJP should remember that “daily passengers” will not help win elections here.
“Nobody could think Trinamool Congress would win with such a huge margin, but I had a hunch of winning 221 seats,” she said, claiming that the number will soon be achieved with some of the BJP fence-sitters will join the ruling party.
Banerjee said more than 99 per cent of the people of Bhabanipur have been vaccinated against Covid-19, while over 80 per cent of the eligible people of the entire city have been inoculated.
She said one should look at the number of Covid-related deaths in BJP-ruled Uttar Pradesh and Gujarat.
“Some say there are no correct figures (of coronavirus deaths) in Gujarat and its chief minister has been changed,” the TMC boss said, without elaborating on it.
She alleged that bodies of many people who died of Covid were dumped in the river Ganga in Uttar Pradesh, claiming that her government fished out those bodies in Malda and cremated them with due respect.
“We hope that the predicted third wave (of the pandemic) does not strike, but our preparations to deal with it are complete,” Banerjee said.