Siliguri: BJP chief Amit Shah onTuesday lunched at a tribal's home, and met local residents here in northern West Bengal's Naxalabari block -- the cradle of the 50-year-old Maoist movement in India - while launching a stinging attack on the ruling Trinamool Congress.
Marking the start of his 15-day 'Vistar Yatra' spread over five states to expand the party's base, Shah held a meeting of Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) workers in booth number 93 of the Naxalbari assembly constituency in Darjeeling district, after flying in here at 11 a.m.
He also went to five houses of voters at the booth, beginning the campaign from the home of a Muslim Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) supporter Mohammed Sabiruddin.
The BJP President had lunch at the house of party activist Raju Mahali -- a tribal daily wager, who makes a living by painting apartments and buildings.
Amit Shah sat on the floor at the spartan house in Dakkhin Katiajote village, and was served vegetarian fare on a banana leaf by Mahali's wife Geeta. The meal comprised rice, roti, moong dal, 'potol' (a small gourd) fry, squash curry, papad and salad.
At the booth workers' meeting, and later addressing a gathering of intellectuals, he minced no words in slamming the Trinamool and its supremo cum state Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee.
Amit Shah accused the state government of not letting the Union government's developmental schemes percolate down to the grassroots, and dubbed the Trinamool as "even worse" than the state's erstwhile Left Front regime.
"I want to tell the Trinamool Congress leaders that the more you try to dominate, the more you carry out injustice, the lotus will bloom. "Trinamool government is even worse than the Left Front regime," he said.
Taking pot shots at the Trinamool over the Saradha chit fund scam and the Narada video sting footage, Amit Shah said the state government has only indulged in corruption and vote bank politics. Continuing his verbal assault, Shah pilloried the Trinamool over fake currency, crude bomb manufacture and Bangladeshi infiltrators.
"Through Malda, the entire country's fake currency note industry is being run in Bengal. One after another, manufacturing industries have shut down. There are no industries left... only bomb making factories are working... crude bombs are being manufactured.
"The entire state is reeling under the problem of Bangladeshi infiltrators. Jobs of youths of Bengal are being snatched away by the infiltrators," he alleged.
Amit Shah said Bengal is becoming poorer by the day and the state, which once led the nation, has now plunged into "chaos due to the prevailing unemployment, violence and appeasement politics" pursued by the Banerjee regime.
Describing Naxalbari as one of the last frontier villages in the country, sharing borders with Bhutan, Nepal and Bangladesh, Shah asserted that the central government led by Narendra Modi has been working to reach out to all such villages in the country through its developmental programme.
"I have started the tour from Naxalbari. This is not random. This is a huge indication. Communist Party and the Leftists had unleashed violence from Naxalbari. Today I am here to say, where there was beginning of violence, there in the same village, Modi's 'Sabka Saath Sabka Vikas' mantra is echoing through."
The area was the stage for an armed peasant uprising in 1967 led by the local tribals that inspired the Maoist movement which over time spread to various other states. Amit Shah is scheduled to visit Banerjee's constituency Bhowanipore in south Kolkata on Wednesday.
The eastern state forms the first leg of Shah's 'Vistar Yatra', during which he would spend three days each in four states and a Union Territory, in an effort to strengthen the party organisation at the grassroots. The Trinamool lost no time in countering Shah.
Trinamool Secretary General Partha Chatterjee rubbished his claim that the BJP would become a formidable force in the state by the 2019 Lok Sabha polls.
"They should be more concerned about their position in Delhi, not Bengal. They should worry about whether they would be able to stay in power at the centre in 2019. The people of India have decided that no matter what happens, BJP will have no place in the nation after 2019," he retorted.