The brawl over families between Mamata Banerjee and Union minister Amit Shah continued during his second visit to Bengal today, with the Chief Minister, still fuming over his last week’s “Bua-Bhatija” remark, challenging the senior BJP leader to defeat her nephew first. There was a second challenge as well. Ms Banerjee, who had dragged Amit Shah’s son Jay Shah into the debate last week, continued the argument today, saying, “I challenge Amit Shah to let his son enter politics”.
“Abhishek Banerjee gets no special privileges from me,” the Chief Minister said, voicing a prickly issue within the party for the first time.
“Abhishek was very young when I was beaten up,” she said, recalling the events of August 16, 1990, when she was beaten up by CPM cadres in Kolkata.
“Let me tell you why I brought him into politics. As a small child, he started asking questions about why I was beaten up… Then he would pick up a flag and go raise slogans all by himself… Our children are not like yours, who are sent abroad.They are brought up on this soil,” she said.
Political rivals, she said tried to “kill” Abhishek Banerjee in an accident.
“He still can’t see properly in one eye. My family will not do anything that will let you down… I told him go to Rajya Sabha, he said, ‘No I want to be elected’,” she added, referring to the MP from Diamond Harbour.
His induction and rapid rise through the party ranks had made Abhishek Banerjee a point of friction between the Trinamool chief and her leaders, many of whom have subsequently switched to the BJP.
Senior leaders like Suvendu Adhikari who changed camp, had been vocal, stopping just short of pointing fingers at Ms Banerjee.
Without naming the Mr Banerjee, Mr Adhikari had spoken of leaders “arriving by parachute or lift” into the party, drawing retaliation.
The BJP has inevitably targetted the Chief Minister on the issue.
During his visit to the state last week, Amit Shah had said, “Modi Sarkar is for Garib Kalyan (welfare of the poor). Mamata Sarkar is for Bhatija Kalyan (welfare of the nephew). She is wondering when she can make her nephew Chief Minister”.
Ms Banerjee, with her street fighter credentials, did not pull any punches.
“They keep saying Bhatija Bua. What about your son? We are bad just because we are in Bengal. How did he make so much money?” she had shot back the same day.
“I will fight on the streets,”Ms Banerjee declared today. “Will my booth workers take care of the booths? We will win 2021 with record margins,” she added.