Farmers’ leader Rakesh Tikait addressed a maha panchayat (public meeting) in Bengal’s Nandigram today, amid an extreme Trinamool-BJP clash over Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee’s injury last week. “Don’t vote for the BJP,” he urged voters in the state’s assembly constituency, where Ms. Banerjee would face Suvendu Adhikari, whose departure from the Trinamool Congress last year caused the expulsion of party leaders.
“This is my message to the people of Bengal. The (BJP-led) central government has looted the country…don’t vote for them (BJP). If they come to you seeking votes, ask them: when will we get our MSP (minimum support price),” he said.
Mr. Tikait, who has been leading a major farmers’ protest at the Delhi-UP border against three central agriculture laws, was welcomed in Kolkata earlier today by Trinamool MP Dola Sen.
Mr. Tikait, a critic of the BJP-led central government on farm issues, met with party leaders on Kolkata’s Mayo Road before leaving for Nandigram.
He said he would fly through Bengal to fight against the BJP, labeling the alleged assault on Ms. Banerjee disappointing. He, on the other hand, claimed that he was not in Bengal to solicit votes for any political party.
More About Nandigram Incident:
Ms. Banerjee was injured last week while campaigning in Nandigram after filing her nomination papers, injuring her foot, head, and chest. She told journalists that four to five unidentified people pushed her and slammed the car door shut in her face.
While the Trinamool Congress blamed the BJP and the Election Commission for the incident, the opposition said it was an accident and that Ms. Banerjee was creating “drama” to gain sympathy votes.
The Election Commission responded angrily earlier this week to Trinamool’s claim that the “attack” occurred a day in Nandigram after the Bengal police chief was removed.
“It looks undignified to even respond to the allegations of all this being done at the behest of a particular political party,” the poll panel had stated in its reply.
The accusations “virtually undermined the very basis and fabric of the Indian Constitution,” the influential election body said, adding that it “does not appropriate or take over the day-to-day administration of any state, including West Bengal.”
According to a state election official, the report made no mention of the “four-five people” who allegedly assaulted her in Nandigram. He clarified that it was referring to the presence of a large crowd at the venue.