While strongly defending the Citizenship (Amendment) Act (CAA), Union home minister Amit Shah told a party rally at Shahid Minar today that the Trinamul Congress leader and West Bengal chief minister Mamata Banerjee was responsible for communal strifle through her “mindless” agitation against the CAA. He fired repeated salvos at the TMC chief from the beginning of his speech and accused Miss Banerjee of “triggering riots” and “burning trains” to stop the law.

The direct attack on Miss Banerjee and indirect attack on her nephew Avishek Banerjee during his speech is being seen as a warm-up exercise by the BJP ahead of the municipal polls and 2021 Assembly polls, Mr Shah, the BJP’s former national president, also asked the gathering whether Miss Banerjee should be pardoned for her opposition to the implementation of the CAA and said “Mamata Didi can’t stop it.”

“I want to ask Mamata Didi ~ why are you hurting the interests of our refugees? Didi, you are insulting Sri Harichand and Guruchand Thakur (who worked among the untouchable people of Bengal Presidency) and Baroma Binapani Devi by snatching the citizenship rights of the Matua community. You only care about infiltrators. Refugees are being misled and scared. Hindus who fled our neighbouring countries, who were raped and threatened and killed, should they not get citizenship?” he asked.

Accusing Opposition parties, including the Congress, of misguiding the refugees and minorities, Shah said not a single person will lose citizenship as a result of the CAA. “The Opposition is terrorising minorities. I assure every person from the minority community that CAA only provides citizenship, does not take it away. It won’t affect your citizenship,” he said. Mr Shah virtually kicked off the BJP’s campaign for the upcoming municipal elections in Bengal today, and said the party will win an overwhelming victory in the next state Assembly election.

“I thank Bengal for 18 seats in 2019 (Lok Sabha elections). Mamata used to say we will lose our deposits. The BJP got twocrore plus votes in Bengal. Mamata-ji, just wait, in 2021 (Assembly) election, we will win Bengal with clear majority and will form the next government in Bengal with two-third majority after 2021,” Mr Shah said. Warning of stern action against “extortion rackets” and “syndicate gangs” in the state he urged people to exercise their franchise to install a BJP government to abolish “syndicate, extortion and other crimes networks from the state”.

“If BJP forms the government here, each and every extortionist leader and party worker will be picked up and thrown into jail. We shall abolish the family business of looting public money. We will restore law and order in Bengal and ensure sonarBangla,” he said. Mr Shah, credited with crafting the party’s victories in 2014 and 2019, tweaked the slogan of “parivartan” (change) used by Miss Banerjee to topple the 35-year Left citadel in 2011.

“Aar noy (no more) tolabaji(extortion), appeasement, infiltration, violence… this is the slogan that will change the government of Bengal,” he said, launching the “Aar noy onnay(no more injustice)” campaign, crafted on the lines of Miss Banerjee’s “Didi-ke bolo” campaign. With specific phone numbers, both focus on public feedback. Mr Shah held closeddoor meetings with the state BJP leadership along with party national president JP Nadda this evening, where, the strategy for the upcoming elections in the state was discussed.

The TMC leadership was quick to return Mr Shah’s fire, asking him to apologise for “failing” to save innocent lives during the Delhi violence. “Rather than coming and preaching in Bengal, Amit Shah you should have explained and apologised for failing to save more than 50 innocent lives in Delhi Violence right under your nose,” TMC leader and the chief minister’s nephew Abhishek Banerjee said in a tweet. “Mr Shah, Bengal is better off without bigotry and hatred that the BJP is trying to spread,” he said.