According to West Bengal chief minister Mamata Banerjee ahead of the Bhabanipur byelection, Bengal will protect Hindustan (India) and will not let it become Pakistan or part of the Taliban. She added that everyone would live in unity in a land where Rabindranath Tagore was a poet laureate as well as the national poet of neighboring Bangladesh, Kavi Nazrul Islam.
On Thursday, the chief minister met with the non-Bengali community of Bhabanipur, which makes up 40 percent of the area’s population. ‘Bengal will protect Hindustan and will not allow it to become Pakistan or the Taliban, as this was the land of Rabindranath and Nazrul, so we will all stay together’, she said. While Mamata’s hometown is Bhabanipur, the BJP is trying to woo the non-Bengali community in order to project that it has a bigger share of the vote here.
BJP critics have repeated her ‘appeasement policy’ as the reason for their criticism. Nevertheless, political pundits said Mamata’s presentation of unity and diversity might help change the image of Bhabanipur. In her remarks, she referred to the BJP’s ‘Pakistan campaign’ in Nandigram before the elections and said they were doing the same in Bhabanipur, but the people’s unity was the essence of Bhabanipur. As she began the interaction, she expressed her pleasure at getting the chance to represent Bhabanipur.
Party insiders say Banerjee’s main focus was answering questions about herself. ‘I’ve been to a masjid; I’ve been to a gurdwara and a mandir too,’ she said. Trinamool Congress leader Shobhondev Chatterjee, who resigned from the Bhabanipur assembly seat for Banerjee to contest the bypoll, said, ‘She wanted to uphold unity, which is why she said she will not allow this to become Pakistan or Taliban’.
However, the BJP called this an ‘election stunt’. ‘One should thank the BJP that she is now going to a mandir. She should go and say this Pakistan thing to her minister Firhad Hakim, who talks about ‘Mini Pakistan’, said her opponent and BJP candidate Priyanka Tibrewal.