Bengal has opted for 'poriborton (change)', Prime Minister Narendra Modi declared Monday afternoon at a public meeting in Hooghly district just weeks before Assembly elections.
PM Modi, who is making his second visit this month, also took a swipe at Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee and the ruling Trinamool, accusing them of corruption and actively preventing the development of Bengal by stalling implementation of the centre's welfare schemes.
"All these years this region has been left to itself... but Bengal has made up its mind for 'poriborton (change)' and BJP will bring 'aashol poriborton (real change)'. Development is impossible till there are syndicates... it is impossible till there is tolabaaz (extortion). Aaar noy anyay, amraa aashol poribortonchai (We don't want injustice... we want real change)," the Prime Minister told voters.
"Those who ruled Bengal have brought it to this state. People who talk about 'maa maati manush (which translates as 'mother, land and people' and refers to the Trinamool's emotion-laden war cry) are stopping Bengal's development," he added.
The Prime Minister accused the Trinamool of failing to provide drinking water to the people of Bengal; he said the centre had sanctioned Rs 1,700 crore but only Rs 609 crore had been spent.
"They (the Trinamool) are holding on to the rest of the money. They don't care (but) those who want water... are they not also Bengal's daughters," the Prime Minister said, taking another swipe at the ruling party - this time over its new election slogan "Bangla Nijer Meyekei Chaye", which translates as "Bengal wants its own daughter" and pitches Ms Banerjee in that role.
The Prime Minister also attacked the Trinamool over benefit payments to farmers - a sore point between the state and central governments.
Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee is bidding for a third term in power (File)
The Trinamool claims the centre is not disbursing funds under PM-Kisan despite it having sent a list of beneficiaries. The centre claims it has received no list and that the state is withholding this information.Advertisement
"Centre sends money directly to accounts but Trinamool tolabaaz (extortionists) take the money for state schemes... this mentality has stopped people from getting Kisan Samman Nidhi," he said.
"Problem is the 'cut-cut' culture," the Prime Minister said, referring to claims of bribes being demanded by Trinamool leaders, "Bengalis I meet complain... ask how will they do anything? Even if you rent a building there is a cut. You cannot rent without the consent of the syndicate."Advertisement
The Prime Minister also promised voters that Hooghly will "move towards industrial development if the BJP government is formed". "Jute industry was its pride... that has been left to itself. The BJP government at the centre has thought about jute mill workers," he said.
PM Modi's latest Bengal visit is part of a multi-state blitzkrieg organised by the BJP ahead of Assembly elections in Bengal, Assam, Kerala, Tamil Nadu and Puducherry.Advertisement
Bengal has emerged as a high-profile target for the BJP, which has never previously ruled the state.
Home Minister Amit Shah, who has set the BJP a target of 200 of 294 Assembly seats and party chief JP Nadda have also visited, with both taking on Mamata Banerjee and the Trinamool in fiery speeches.
The run-up to elections has been marked by vitriolic mud-slinging fueled, in part, by the resignation of a large number of Trinamool MPs, MLAs and ministers, several of whom have joined the BJP.
With input from PTI