Kanthi/Nandakumar: Trinamool Congress chief Mamata Banerjee on Sunday blamed herself for being a simpleton and for not recognising the "true face" of the "influential" Adhikari family, without naming it. She called herself a "big donkey" for being unable to do so.
Apparently venting her ire against the Adhikari family of Purba Medinipur district, Banerjee said at an election rally here that she had even heard rumours that "they" had built a huge empire. Banerjee's protege-turned-rival Suvendu, considered the most important member of the Adhikari family and described as its spokesman by patriarch Sisir Adhikari, is pitted against the TMC leader from Nandigram constituency for the coming assembly polls.
He had left the TMC in December last to join the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP). Sisir Adhikari, TMC MP and Suvendu's father, joined the BJP in the presence of senior BJP leader and Union Home Minister Amit Shah during the day.
"I say I am a 'big donkey' (Ami ekta boro gadha) for having failed to recognise them, I am sorry for being such a simpleton. I don't know (about it), but people say they have built a huge 'empire' and they will use money to buy votes. But don't vote for them," Banerjee, who addressed three public meetings in Purba Medinipur district on Sunday, said.
The West Bengal chief minister said she will get the allegations investigated once she is voted to power.
Most members of the Adhikari family, which holds considerable political clout in the district, have either joined the BJP or expressed a desire to join the saffron party.
She compared "the family" with "Mir Jafar" (traitor) and said the people of the region will not tolerate it and give befitting reply in the elections.
Mir Jafar, the military general of Bengal's last independent nawab Siraj-ud-Daulah, is considered a traitor for deceiving the besieged Nawab during the Battle of Plassey in 1757 which paved the way for British rule in India.
In all the three meetings, she blamed "the family" for ruling the district like "zamindars" (landlords) by taking full control of the area, claiming that even she could not enter the district or allowed to hold public meetings there without their permission.
"Now I am independent and can go anywhere in the district," she said.
While Suvendu Adhikari was a minister in Mamata Banerjee cabinet, his father and brother Dibyendu are Lok Sabha MPs and youngest sibling Soumendu was the chairman of Kanthi municipality.
Except Dibyendu, all the other three have joined the BJP.
Banerjee claimed that she did not understand that the "traitors" will go to the BJP after getting everything in the TMC.
Taking on Union Home Minister Amit Shah over his promise to implement the seventh pay commission for West Bengal government employees, Banerjee questioned the rise in petrol, diesel and cooking gas prices.
"The Modi government has hiked cooking gas prices to Rs 850 per cylinder, it will reduce the price by Rs 100 just before the elections and then increase it again and these people are talking about implementing the seventh pay commission," she said, demanding that cooking gas be given for free to people.
"I have seen many prime ministers, but have never seen such an unkind PM," she said, adding "BJP is a party of evils." The TMC chief also described the BJP as a party of "rogues and goons". Alleging that people of the saffron party are the "biggest thieves", she said that they are now questioning the conduct of leaders of her party.
Urging voters to support the TMC at the hustings, Banerjee claimed that state government schemes like 'Kanyashree' will get stopped if the TMC loses. She promised to build 30 lakh residences under a free housing scheme for the poor people in the state. Banerjee questioned whether anyone has got Rs 15 lakh in their accounts that Narendra Modi had promised before the 2014 Lok Sabha elections. Claiming that perpetrators of crimes against women go scot free in BJP-ruled Uttar Pradesh, Banerjee alleged that law and order is absent in UP.
Highlighting that all works like health, roads and other schemes in Purba Medinipur were undertaken by the state government and not by one particular family, Banerjee urged the crowd to keep the BJP out of West Bengal to maintain peace and further the pace of development. Banerjee left her Bhawanipur constituency in Kolkata to contest from Nandigram, where an anti-land acquisition movement catapulted the TMC to power in the state in 2011.