West Bengal chief minister Mamata Banerjee on Saturday said the BJP’s the party’s victory in the Lok Sabha elections was "mystery" and not "history", hinting that electronic voting machines (EVM) had been rigged.
"We don't want EVMs. We want ballot box to be brought back. We want to tell the Election Commission in the state that municipality and other elections should be done via ballot boxes," said Banerjee at Martyrs' Day, an annual rally organised by her Trinamool Congress (TMC) party in Kolkata to commemorate the deaths of 13 people in police firing in 1993.
Banerjee said several countries that had reverted to ballot papers after using EVMs.
She also said that the BJP had also misused the Central Reserve Police Force, the paramilitary in charge of security during elections, and the and the Election Commission of India.
The BJP won 18 of the 42 Lok Sabha seats in 2019. The TMC won 22 seats, down from 34 it had won in 2014.
"We tell the BJP, first return the black money you used in the elections. Return the black money and cut money--all that you have taken till now--and used for winning elections," she said, referring in the second instance the commission political leaders and workers allegedly charge from people to deliver government services in the state.
She also accused the BJP of using central government agencies to threaten TMC leaders and its elected representatives on the one hand and money power on the other to win people to their side.
Banerjee's accusations were in the wake of many workers, sympathisers and leaders, changing sides since the elections.
But Banerjee's battle for Bengal appeared to be a two-pronged strategy. While she would continue to attack the BJP, the party planned to return to the grassroots ahead of the assembly elections in 2021.
On July 29, Banerjee said, she would launch a major programme. She also urged the people to maintain their mass contact and said that administrative meetings at the district level would be resumed. "The next three months I will visit districts," she said.
Banerjee tried to enthuse workers at the booth level by saying that they were the most important cog in the Trinamool wheel. "Booth workers are most important. They are our biggest asset," she said.
A street fighter herself, Banerjee urged her party leaders to get down to the block level and work for the people. "You can't do politics from the confines of your home," she said.
Political observers said that the TMC did not enjoy the ground level connect that it used to anymore and that was one of the main reasons for its losses in the elections.
Banerjee has roped in poll strategist Prashant Kishor for the 2021 assembly elections. The slew of party programmes to be announced in the coming weeks are most likely to have traces of his influence.