- Mamata Banerjee called the BJP a "party of outsiders"
- Few MLAs leaving TMC would not matter, people are with us: Ms Banerjee
- Land of Rabindranath Tagore will never allow hate politics: Ms Banerjee
Exactly one week after Union Home Minister Amit Shah's triumphant parade at West Bengal's Bolpur, the town of Nobel laureate Rabindranath Tagore's Visva Bharati University, Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee took on the BJP at a competitive campaign rally ahead of next year's assembly elections, attacking the party for "divisive politics".
"Just by buying a few MLAs - and the most rotten ones - don't think you can buy the Trinamool Congress," she said in her first public reference to the exit of seven MLAs from her party 10 days ago, including former minister Suvendu Adhikari.
Calling the BJP a "party of outsiders", she accused them of importing "hate politics and fake politics" and trying to break Bengal's spine and said such things cannot triumph in the land that Rabindranath Tagore had described as 'Sonar Bangla' (Golden Bengal).
"Those who don't respect Mahatma Gandhi and other icons of the country are talking of building 'Sonar Bangla'. But Bengal is already golden and Rabindranath Tagore has already written that in his song (which is now the national anthem of Bangladesh). All we need to do is to protect the place from the communal onslaught of the BJP," Ms Banerjee said.
"I feel bad when I see efforts being made to pursue communal politics at Visva Bharati," Ms Banerjee said, addressing a crowd of thousands of supporters brought in buses after a four-kilometre roadshow near the famous university set up by Tagore, around 150 km from Kolkata.
Branding Visva Bharati Vice-Chancellor Bidyut Chakrabarty a "BJP rubber stamp", Ms Banerjee said he plans on destroying the rich heritage of the hallowed institution by "importing divisive and communal politics inside its campus".
Ms Banerjee also invited Baul folk singer Basudeb Das Baul on stage to sing for the crowd, one-upping Amit Shah's gesture of having lunch at his home earlier this month.
"The Bengal elections are coming up and every week there is a five-star feast happening. They are trying to show they are eating at some Adivasi bhai's place. No one can insult our Adivasi brothers," she said.
West Bengal has seen a rise in bitter canvassing ahead of state elections due next year in which a surging BJP, bolstered by a series of defections and visits by top leaders, hopes to unseat Mamata Banerjee's Trinamool Congress government.