Modi lambasts Mamata at Bengal rally, canopy collapse leaves 90 injured (Roundup)

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Midnapore (West Bengal), July 16 (IANS) Prime Minister Narendra Modi on Monday patted his government in the back for raising the Minimum Support Prices (MSPs) of crops, while lambasting West Bengal’s Mamata Banerjee regime for “forming a nexus with syndicates” and murdering Dalit political activists, even as 90 people sustained injuries following a canopy collapse at a BJP rally here.

Indicating that the government’s recent measures to woo the farmers would be a major campaign issue in coming state assembly and Lok Sabha polls, he blamed previous governments for failing to hike the MSP of crops despite farmers’ demands and expert panels’ recommendations.

“The demand for raising the MSP was placed before every government. Many commissions and committees were formed. But every time it was stalled. Files kept on piling,” the Prime Minister told a farmers’ rally in Midnapore town.

“The farmers went on demanding and agitating… but neither the state governments nor those in power in Delhi heard them..”.

The centre recently approved an MSP, providing farmers a profit of 50 per cent or more over “cost of production” for Kharif crops for 2018-19.

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Reiterating his commitment to farmers, Modi said the government was working to double farmers’ income by 2022, and highlighted the decision to consider bamboo as a grass that paved the way for peasants to produce, cut and sell bamboo.

Listing his government’s policy initiatives for farmers, he said: “”My government is your government and it is a pro-farmer government.”

While Modi utilised the first part of his speech to endear himself to the agrarian constituency, which so long seemed upset with his government, the latter half of his address contained an all out attack on Banerjee’s Trinamool Congress dispensation, accusing it of having no faith in democracy, the Indian constitution or the electoral process.

“Those who don’t believe in democracy or the process of election, or the Constitution and the government that has to be reprimanded by High Court and Supreme Court, should be careful. This is Bengal, none of them will be spared,” warned the Prime Minister, who started his speech in Bengali amid tumultuous applause and high-decibel chants of “Modi, Modi”.

Asking didi (elder sister, as Banerjee is called) to take note of “the strength and discipline” of the people at the rally, Modi urged the people and the workers of BJP to “think together and bravely” to shake the “foundation of the syndicate” as was done in Tripura – where the BJP won the assembly polls earlier this year by ending 25 years of Left Front rule.

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Refering to the 34 years of Left Front rule in West Bengal that ended in 2011 when the Trinamool was came to power, he said while it took time to vote out the communists, it won’t take long this time around.

“Now Bengal will once again free itself of the wrongdoings and crimes within months. Bengal is waiting for its chance. People of Bengal are waiting for their opportunity.”

Taking a swipe at the state administration, the Prime Minister claimed that the syndicates are controlling everything in Bengal starting from construction to education.

“These are the syndicate for snatching away the profit of the farmers, for conspiring to murder the political opposition, for torturing the poor and for maintaining their own vote banks to cling to power,” he said.

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Turning to the killings centring the recent state rural body elections, Modi congratulated the BJP activists for “standing firm” against the ruling party’s attack in spite of several of them being killed and said the victory of the saffron outfit in a number of seats was an indication of Bengal’s “bright future”.

However, in a tragic incident, 90 people – 24 of them women – had to be taken to hospital after a canopy caved in soon after Modi started his speech.

Modi stopped for a few minutes when the structure collapsed to urge the audience to be careful, get off the stage and move to a safer area and also instructed officials to make arrangements for treatment of the victims.

After the rally, Modi visited the injured in the hospital and talked to the attending doctors.

The rally was organised by the state unit of the Bharatiya Janata Party. State BJP president Dilip Ghosh later said: “if it is found that the mishap happened due to any intentional mistake on anybody’s part, then proper action will be taken”.

–IANS

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