Addressing a big public rally in Kolkata on Saturday, Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) president Amit Shah made it evident that his party’s strategy to win its target of 22 of West Bengal’s 42 Lok Sabha seats in 2019 will rest on “expelling Bangladeshi infiltrators” from the state.
In New Delhi, the Congress said it would soon ask the Election Commission to take action on the BJP chief for “giving false information” in the affidavit he had filed to contest the Rajya Sabha polls in July 2017.
Congress leader Jairam Ramesh alleged that Kusum Finserve Private Limited, a limited liability company (LLC), that BJP chief’s son Jay Shah owns, received bank loans by mortgaging two properties that Amit Shah owns near Ahmedabad. Ramesh said the BJP chief didn’t declare these properties in his election affidavit, and has therefore broken the law. Business Standard sought a response from the BJP, but it was awaited at the time of filing of this report.
In Kolkata, the BJP chief launched a fierce attack on West Bengal Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee and Trinamool Congress. Shah said Bangladeshi ghuspathiye, or infiltrators, comprised the vote bank of Banerjee's party. He alleged Banerjee-led Bengal government has arm-twisted local Bengali news television channels to blackout his speech.
In its response, the Trinamool Congress said Shah was looking at excuses after delivering yet “another flop show” in Bengal. “Blackouts and blackmailing is what BJP does. Don’t insult the media. All showed his rally,” the Trinamool Congress said.
In his speech, Shah demanded that Banerjee and Congress president Rahul Gandhi clarify before the next Lok Sabha elections whether their commitment was to their respective vote banks of “Bangladeshi infiltrators” or to the nation’s security.
Shah alleged Bangladeshi infiltrators were behind the “frequent” bomb blasts in Bengal, and it was time these infiltrators “are thrown out”. He, however, didn’t specify where such “infiltrators” be sent, but he seemed to suggesting that the BJP supported a National Register of Citizens (NRC), as carried out in Assam, for Bengal as well.
Shah said Banerjee was spreading misinformation that an NRC in Bengal would also hit refugees. The BJP chief said his government is committed to bring the citizenship Bill in Parliament in the next session and it would enable “Hindu, Buddhists, Sikh and Christian” refugees from Pakistan, Afghanistan and Bangladesh to get Indian citizenship. He asked whether the Trinamool would support the Bill.
Shah said Bengali society and its culture would be at risk if the infiltration wasn’t stopped, and accused Congress and Trinamool Congress of being worried about the human rights of infiltrators, but not of “Hindus and Muslims of Bengal”. The BJP chief accused Banerjee of running a corrupt government where her nephew and the “syndicate” rob the money the Centre sends for Bengal’s villages, and of worsening Bengal's economic ruin.
Shah said Banerjee was practicing politics of appeasement where Durga idols are not allowed to be immersed after Durga puja and Saraswati puja stopped in schools. He said a BJP government will ensure such things don’t happen. Shah said BJP isn’t anti-Bengali, how can it be when it was founded by “Bengal’s great son Syama Prasad Mookerjee”.
In New Delhi, Congress leader and Rajya Sabha member Ramesh questioned the business dealings of Amit Shah’s son. Ramesh said the “first episode” was that of Jay owned Temple enterprises, which suffered losses in the first two years of its inception, did business of Rs 50,000 in the third year, which increased to a business of Rs 800 million in the fourth year and the company was shut down in its fifth year.
Ramesh said the second episode of this “serial” related to Kusum Finserve with a net worth of Rs 60 million. He said the company has got loans worth Rs 950 million from different banks on the basis of mortgaging two plots of land near Ahmedabad and a building.
The Congress leader said the two plots of land were owned not by Jay, but Amit Shah. “In the election affidavit that Amit Shah filed last year for the Rajya Sabha elections, he didn’t declare that these two plots of land owned by him were mortgaged to banks. Instead, Shah claimed he had no liabilities,” Ramesh said.
The Congress leader asked why Shah didn’t declare his liabilities. Second, Gujarat government’s Gujarat Industrial Development Corporation (GIDC) gave Kusum Finserve a plot of land worth Rs 60 million on lease and on the basis of this leased land the company received a bank loan of Rs 170 million. “Why and how did this happen?” Ramesh asked.
Third, Ramesh said Kusum Finserve hasn’t filed its annual report for the year 2016-17 until now. He said this was liable for prosecution. Lastly, Ramesh questioned how the Indian Renewable Energy Development Agency (IREDA), an arm of the Ministry of Power, gave Kusum Finserve a loan of Rs 105 million for wind energy development in Ratlam, Madhya Pradesh, when the company has no business or factory. Ramesh said even if it were a startup, IREDA rules are that an individual can only be given a maximum loan of Rs 50 million, but an exception was made for Kusum Finserve.
After his visit to Chhattisgarh, the Congress president was in Rajasthan today as part of the Congress party’s election campaign for the forthcoming state assembly polls. Assembly elections are scheduled for Mizoram, Rajasthan, Chhattisgarh and Madhya Pradesh by November-December.