March 2019
10:41 PM IST
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Polls will sound ''death knell'' for BJP, end Modi''s ''reign of fear'': Mamata
Kolkata: The Lok Sabha polls will sound the "death knell" for the BJP and bring an end to Narendra Modi''s "reign of fear", West Bengal Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee asserted Tuesday. The Trinamool Congress supremo said the electoral battle will be between a "united India and some isolated people", as she mounted a scalding assault on the BJP and the prime minister. "The 2019 Lok Sabha polls will sound the death knell for the BJP and give people freedom from the reign of fear of Narendra Modi. It will be a fight between a united India and some isolated people," she told a press conference after releasing the list of TMC candidates for all the 42 Lok Sabha seats in the state.

She claimed that she had information that "VVIPs" were using helicopters and chartered flights to transport money to bribe voters ahead of the polls. Banerjee assailed the Centre over a host of issues, including the Rafale deal, farm distress and shrinking employment opportunities. Backing Congress president Rahul Gandhi''s allegations against the government over the Rafale deal, the TMC chief said, "I completely agree with what Rahul Gandhi is saying about Rafale scam. They (BJP) are threatening journalists like N Ram for speaking the truth." Ram had written an article in The Hindu, saying at the height of the negotiations over the Rafale deal between India and France, the Defence Ministry had raised strong objections to "parallel negotiations" conducted by the Prime Minister''s Office (PMO).

She also demanded answers from Modi on why he went ahead with demonetisation despite the RBI brass'' reservations. The board of the Reserve Bank of India (RBI), which included the present governor Shaktikanta Das as a director, had warned of short-term negative impact of demonetisation on the economy and observed that the unprecedented move will not have any material impact on tackling black money. The board, according to minutes of a meeting disclosed by the RBI in an RTI reply, had met just two-and-a-half hours before Modi announced demonetisation of Rs 1,000 and Rs 5,00 currency notes on 8 November 2016. Banerjee said the coalition government of anti-BJP parties will create more jobs, bring about peace and stability in Jammu and Kashmir and "freedom from the pervasive atmosphere of fear".

The fiery leader accused the BJP of "pressuring" the Election Commission to toe its line because of which the polling schedule was inordinately stretched to enable the prime minister to launch an extensive campaign across the country. To back her claim, Banerjee said, Modi''s constituency Varanasi was scheduled to go to polls in the last phase on May 19. "The BJP is trying to influence the Election Commission as if the constitutional body belongs to them only. The Election Commission belongs to every political party. They (the Election Commission) should take action regarding advertisements of Narendra Modi being shown in various cinema halls.

These should be removed immediately," she said. The country was under an "undeclared emergency" for the past five years and the situation now is worse than the declared one in 1975, Banerjee said. She alleged that seeds of division and hatred are being sown and people are being discriminated on the basis of caste, creed and religion. "The gau-raksha and lynching syndicates have been created in the country. They (BJP) should feel ashamed about it," Banerjee said. In the name of "strikes", extremism is being promoted with political motives ahead of the elections, Banerjee said, claiming that terrorism has increased by 260 per cent in last one year. "The Modi government has failed on all fronts. Unemployment has increased, farmers are committing suicide. Farmers, tribals, Dalits, women are being persecuted.

We have to take care of all the communities, all the castes and all the religions. It will be done," she said.

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