Don't play Hindu card, people can't be divided on religion basis: Mamata Banerjee's message to BJP in Nandigram
Kolkata/IBNS: In a bid to counter the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP)'s alleged religious polarisation, West Bengal Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee Tuesday asked her adversary not to play the Hindu card as people can't be divided on the basis of religion.
Banerjee, who is contesting from Nandigram in the upcoming Bengal polls, said, "I will hold two rallies in two blocks. Some people will say 70/30 (divide people on the basis of Hindu and Muslim respectively). But we are for 100 per cent people. People can’t be divided like that."
"Don’t come to play Hindu card with me. First they should prove themselves as Hindus. They should participate in a competition with me over Hinduism," the ruling Trinamool Congress chief added.
Banerjee, who began her political career by defeating Left stalwart Somnath Chatterjee in 1984, is facing a tough contest from her former lieutenant and Trinamool-turned BJP leader Suvendu Adhikari, a former MLA from Nandigram.
Banerjee's comment on "Hindu card" came in the backdrop of Adhikari's statement who had indirectly said in one of the rallies that the BJP would be concentrating on bigger-sized Hindu votes while the Trinamool would have to rely on only Muslim voters for a win.
The Trinamool chief, who will be filing her nomination in Haldia Wednesday, also tried to convince her workers in the rally on her Hindu identity.
From managing to recite Hindu prayers to visiting a temple in Sonachura after the rally, Banerjee tried to appear as an inclusive candidate warding off the Opposition's accusation of minority appeasement.
Using the "insider-outsider" debate brought by the Trinamool in contemporary Bengal politics, Adhikari is aiming to tag Banerjee as an "outsider" in Nandigram, paving way for his victory.
Countering the narrative, Banerjee, who used to refer to BJP campaigners as "outsiders" in the state, said, "Some people are saying I am an outsider. I am an outsider in Bengal while Delhi and Rajasthan goons are not! If I am an outsider, then I should not have become the Chief Minister. How can some outsider become the Chief Minister?"
Adhikari, who led the Trinamool's 2007 Nandigram land movement which catapulted Banerjee to assume power in 2011, jumped to the BJP in Dec 2020. Ever since joining, the BJP leader targeted the Chief Minister giving a call to uninstall the present government through the elections.
Nandigram will go to polls in the second phase of elections Apr 1.