BJP Banks On ‘Bengal Daughter’ Smriti Irani To Counter Mamata’s Women-Centric Strategy

Kolkata: The Trinamool Congress (TMC) has spared no effort to connect with women during its campaign to win the West Bengal assembly elections for the third straight time.

Up against the mighty BJP, which is leaving no stone unturned to wrest power in the state, TMC has been wooing female voters every step of the way.

At almost every election meeting, TMC supremo and chief minister Mamata Banerjee has been saying: “Ki ma-bonera, khela hobe?” (my sisters and mothers, are you ready to play?)

Forced to move around in a wheelchair after she was injured during campaigning in early March, Mamata is often heard saying, “I may have one leg in plaster, but I have the support of your two legs for strength” to women.

TMC’s slogan, ‘Bangla nijer meyeke chaye’ (Bengal wants her own daughter) is another pointer to the ruling party’s focus area.

To counter TMC’s strategy, BJP fielded Union Textiles Minister Smriti Irani, whose mother is a Bengali while her maternal uncle lives in Kolkata. Smriti speaks fluent Bengali, which helped her connect with Bengal women who flocked election rallies.

In a way, she is also a ‘Banglar meye’ (daughter of Bengal).

Smriti has been using Bengali a lot in her public rallies. At her meeting in Murshidabad’s Kandi, she dispelled the belief that BJP is against Muslims (Mushalman birodhi) and also countered many of TMC’s schemes for poor families and women of Bengal with that of BJP’s.

“When the Jan Dhan accounts opened, did the banks ask you your religion? Likewise, the PM plans to provide clean drinking water to every household, irrespective of their religion,” Smriti said.

Connecting with female voters on their development and well-being, Smriti added: “We will give a one-time payment of Rs 1 lakh to every poor household to get their eligible daughters married. We will also have 33% reservation for women in government jobs.”

In her ‘mamabari’ (maternal uncle’s home), she said the Prime Minister has tried to give her provide service, “but it is our misfortune that the leader here does not want to work… Her only aim is to play games.”

West Bengal Mahila Morcha president and fashion designer Agnimitra Paul, BJP’s candidate from Asansol south, said: “She (Smriti) is very much Bengal’s daughter. Didi now shows her solidarity with the womenfolk from Bengal, but it is also a fact that in 10 years of her rule, many of these women have been raped and tortured. She had given instructions to the police not to register FIRs of such cases. If only her sisters from the state were extended the central benefit of building toilets, the pain women face in defecating in the open would have been less. Now, in a desperate move, she has to call out for support of women voters.”

BJP’s West Bengal observer Kailash Vijaywargiya said hat not just the chief minister, every woman living in West Bengal are daughters of the state. Despite being a woman herself, she didn’t do anything to safeguard the women of Bengal, claimed Vijaywargiya.

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