Fuming over the cancellation of his Murshidabad rally due to alleged obstacles put up by the West Bengal government, senior BJP leader Shivraj Singh Chouhan today accused Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee of "welcoming outsiders with open arms" while making it difficult for Indian citizens to enter the state.
The former Madhya Pradesh chief minister was addressing BJP supporters at a public meeting in West Midnapore's Kharagpur ahead of the Lok Sabha elections on Wednesday, soon after calling off his Murshidabad event due to the district administration's alleged refusal to let his helicopter land. BJP state general secretary Sayantan Basu said it was decided that Mr Chouhan should go to Kharagpur from the Kolkata airport by road, just in case the government tries to obstruct his plans again.
The BJP had earlier accused the Mamata Banerjee government of trying to prevent BJP chief Amit Shah and Uttar Pradesh Chief Minister Yogi Adityanath from addressing rallies in the eastern state.
Mr Chouhan began his speech with a prayer to Goddess Kali that the people of West Bengal come upon happiness, good health and peace. "But that cannot happen until Mamata didi remains in power," he said, referring to the chief minister.
He then went on to condemn the state government over the Saradha and Rose Valley scams, which is currently being investigated by the Central Bureau of Investigation. "Mamataji, you did not have any problem when so many poor people lost their hard-earned money in the chit funds. But you are doing everything possible to prevent your police commissioner from being arrested," he said, adding that his party will not rest until the Trinamool Congress government is ousted from power.
"The more you try to stop us, I more often will we come to Bengal," he said.
The BJP leader, who recently faced defeat in Madhya Pradesh at the hands of the Congress, went on to proclaim that Narendra Modi would remain Prime Minister for a second term. "The general of our army is Prime Minister Narendra Modi, but do tell us who yours is," he said, mocking Ms Banerjee's efforts at stitching together a united opposition against the BJP. "The wedding guests have come, but nobody knows who the bridegroom is."
Last month, uncertainty had hung over BJP president Amit Shah's rally in Bengal's Malda district after the district magistrate allegedly refused to allow his chopper to land in the region. The problem, however, was addressed soon enough. Uttar Pradesh Chief Minister Yogi Adityanath was not as lucky. After the godman-turned-politician's chopper request was also turned down, he was forced to undertake a gruelling road trip from Jharkhand's Bokaro to Purulia in West Bengal to address a rally there on Tuesday. The Trinamool government dubbed the BJP's charges as "baseless", saying that landing permissions could not be immediately given due to security concerns.
Ms Banerjee is also in the crosshairs of the Narendra Modi government over her allegedly liberal attitude towards immigrants from other countries, especially the persecuted Rohingya Muslims.
(With inputs from Agencies)