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CM slams BJP for dividing people along religious lines to win polls

Kolkata: Coming down heavily on the BJP, Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee on Thursday accused the saffron party of playing the religious card and thus dividing people to win elections.

Banerjee said she has never used religion to win polls and respects all, irrespective of their faith, caste or creed. She was addressing a gathering at Gitanjali Stadium in Rajdanga on Wednesday evening.

Referring to BJP's allegations that she does not allow Durga Puja and Saraswati Puja in Bengal, she said: "This is a blatant lie and BJP leaders should come to see Durga and Saraswati Puja celebrations in Bengal. More than 40,000 Durga Pujas are held throughout the state while Saraswati Pujas are organised in every household. We take part in Chhat Puja, Ganapati Puja and also in Eid and Christmas. This is Bengal and here, we respect the views of all religions and sects."

Banerjee said Bengal "follows the religion of Swami Vivekananda and not the religion taught by the BJP which divides people. The state has a tradition and culture. We never incite the Biharis against the Punjabis, nor the Gujratis against the Marwaris. It is one whole family and we all live peacefully and happily."

The Chief Minister also alleged that the BJP is trying to destroy the social fabric of the country by inciting people of one religion, caste and creed against another. "The Biharis are safer in Bengal than in Bihar. Some of them speak Bengali better than us. The people from Uttar Pradesh who live in Bengal are in a better position than in UP where people are being lynched on one pretext or the other."

She said the state government has upgraded the areas surrounding important religious places. "We have developed Gangasagar and Tarapith temple. Skywalk has been set up at Dakshineshwar to facilitate the devotees. The burning ghats and the burial grounds have been upgraded and no discrimination is made while improving the infrastructure."

"We have never questioned the integrity of Gandhiji, Netaji or Ambedkar. It is because they could love and embrace people, irrespective of their caste, creed and religion." She urged people to remain vigilant against divisive attempts.

Through demonetisation, the economy of the country has been shattered. "I had reacted within 45 minutes after the announcement was made and said it would do tremendous harm to the country," she said adding that if United India government comes to power, then there will be proper investigation to find out the reason for demonetisation. GST has affected the business community, she said and assured that it would be reviewed by the experts and the provisions that are anti-people will be dropped. She said through various schemes like Kanyashree, girl students have been enormously benefitted as they can pursue higher education. "We have prepared schemes that have helped people coming from different economic and religious backgrounds. There are scholarships for the minority, SC and ST," she said.

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