There were dramatic scenes at the venue when the canopy collapsed midway through Modi’s speech.
Kolkata: Prime Minister Narendra Modi on Monday attacked the Trinamul Congress and called its rule in West Bengal as a “reign of fear” while describing the Mamata Banerjee government as a “syndicate raj” that is surviving by fuelling corruption, throttling democracy and killing political rivals.
Addressing farmers at a rally in West Midnapore, an aggressive Prime Minister braved rain and a near stampede after a portion of the marquee collapsed in the audience enclosure, leaving 90 injured.
There were dramatic scenes at the venue when the canopy collapsed midway through Mr Modi’s speech. The Prime Minister took a pause, calmed the audience so that they “don’t run”, instructed his SPG security personnel and medical team to help victims and resumed his speech after the injured were shifted to hospital. He later visited the victims in hospital.
Mr Modi also tried to strike a chord with the majority community voters by claiming that “even performing puja here is a challenge”, a veiled reference to the alleged appeasement politics of the Mamta Banerjee-led TMC government.
Referring to violence in the state during the recent panchayat elections, the Prime Minister said the TMC government is running a “syndicate raj” that believes in the “rule of fear, has no interest in democracy and does not believe in the election process”.
Looking to expand the BJP’s roots in West Bengal, he said, “Killing people for political gains is a sin. There is a ‘murder your opponents’ syndicate operating here. The money sent by the Central government to West Bengal cannot be used without the permission of this syndicate.”
“Doing anything without the permission of the syndicate has become a problem in West Bengal. Be it opening a new company or setting up a hospital or building a school or constructing a new road, nothing can happen without paying the syndicate for its approval,” said Mr Modi.
The Prime Minister tried to reach out to the state’s farmers and the youth by highlighting their woes. “Farmers do not get their dues while there is no welfare for the poor with the young generation having no future. The real character of those who used to talk about Maa-Mati-Manush has been exposed through the syndicate. This syndicate is about extortion, hatching conspiracy to kill the Opposition party’s workers, unleashing atrocities on the poor and keeping own vote bank intact to remain in power,” he said.
He also spoke about his government’s recent farmer-friendly decision to hike the MSP of Kharif crops. “My government is your government, it is a government of farmers. Our government worked for farmers... From quality seeds to market, it is important to have warehouse to save the produce,” he said, promising to double the income of farmers by 2022.
Earlier, the Prime Minister praised the disciplined audience who did not panic despite the tent collapse.
“Today, I witnessed a new force of the people of Bengal. Can anyone imagine that one-third of the pandal came down and yet the meeting continued peacefully? I do not think it can happen anywhere else. I shall remember this meeting for the rest of my life,” Mr Modi said.
The Prime Minister rated the Trinamul government as worse than the previous Left regime. “They (the Trinamul) have pushed back the state more than the Left did during its rule over three decades here.”
He, however, thanked Ms Banerjee after he came across roadside posters and banners of her welcoming him.
Asserting that the state would be freed from the TMC’s misrule in next few months, a reference to the Lok Sabha elections next year, Mr Modi said people in the state are waiting for an opportunity to show the door to the Trinamul Congress. The TMC has 34 MPs, the BJP has two, the Congress has four and the Left has 2 out of the 42 LS seats in the state.