Kolkata, Dec 11 : West Bengal PCC President Adhir Chowdhury on Friday called Mamata Banerjee and Narendra Modi “two sides of the same coin” and accused both ruling Trinamool Congress and the opposition BJP of doing religion-based politics to get votes in the polls, whether for the Lok Sabha or local bodies.
Chowdhury, who was releasing the Congress manifesto for the December 19 Kolkata Municipal Corporation (KMC) polls, told reporters here that while BJP embarks on a shrill Hindutva campaign before general elections or local body polls, while TMC counters it by treating Muslims and Hindus as separate votebanks.
“This competitive religion-based politics is creating problems for secular and progressive parties like us (Congress). We have to make people realise that Didi (Mamata) and Modi (Narendra Modi) are two sides of the same coin. They had pursued this dangerous brand of politics of division in the West Bengal assembly poll in which BJP had a serious setback.
“But BJP seems to be repeating the same agenda again – weaving the Hindutva narrative in the civic polls and TMC is busy with catering to different religious groups as it does not want to talk about development but in creating division,” he said.
Asked about the demand for deployment of central forces during the KMC polls, Chowdhury, who is also the leader of the Congress in Lok Sabha, said “We don’t have faith in either the Kolkata Police or West Bengal Police in conducting free and fair elections.”
“We feel that if central paramilitary armed forces are deployed during the KMC polls, they will be able to instil confidence among voters to a great extent and ensure free and fair polls. But since the state election commission conducts the local body elections, it is its call. We can only hope that the polls will be held in a free and fair manner and there will be no rerun of the 2018 panchayat poll,” he added.
Commenting on the note of caution by TMC national general secretary Abhishek Banerjee to party activists against any muscle flexing during the KMC polls, Chowdhury said “This depends on Didi. If she wishes there will be free and fair polls and if she wishes otherwise there will be violence.
“Let’s see what happens but we are skeptical,” he said.
Answering a question, Chowdhury said Congress and the Left Front are contesting most of the seats separately and put the onus of absence of pre-poll alliance on the Left.
“They (LF) went ahead and announced candidates for most of the seats. It was then that we announced our candidates. We are fighting individually on our own strengths but we want to defeat BJP and TMC,” he added.
Talking about the promises made in the Congress manifesto, Chowdhury said the party wanted to provide a “clean, livable and green Kolkata” where development will be inclusive and holistic which will retain the heritage, culture and ethos of the city.
“We will ensure true development of slums, employment scope for the youth, better environment and infrastructure, steps for empowerment of women, besides facilities for them as well as children and elderly citizens, educational and employment opportunities for the youth,” he said.
The Congress poll promises included filling up 28,000 vacancies in KMC, ban on illegal building construction, installation of solar light in different areas and in buildings along with conventional electricity and steps to stop death by electrocution after heavy downpour in the city.