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“If You Stay In Bengal, You Have To Learn Bangla”: Mamata Banerjee

Mamata Banerjee also attacked the BJP for using Hindi to extend its influence in West Bengal


West Bengal Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee yesterday launched another attack on what she saw as the ruling BJP’s attempt to “turn Bengal into Gujarat”, declaring that “if you stay in Bengal, you have to learn Bangla”. The Trinamool Congress leader, who has come under fire for her handling of the doctors’ strike in the state, also criticised the BJP for its attempts to extend its influence in her state by using “politics of riots”.

“If you are coming to Bengal, you have to speak in Bengali. We would not allow that people will come from outside and beat up Bengalis,” Mamata Banerjee said at a rally in North 24 Paraganas district.

“We have to bring Bangla (the language) forward. When we go to Delhi, we speak in Hindi. When we go to Punjab, we have to speak in Punjabi. I do it. When I go to Tamil Nadu, I don’t know the Tamil language but I know a few words,” she added.

The Chief Minister’s attack on the BJP’s use of Hindi mirrors criticism levelled at the Centre by South Indian parties, notably the DMK and the PMK, who yesterday called a Southern Railways order to communicate in either English or Hindi the “destruction of a language (Tamil)”.

Ms Banerjee also attacked Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s party for the “politics of riots that BJP had followed in Gujarat” and repeated her claim that “outsiders” were to blame for the doctors’ strike that has affected medical services in the state and led to demonstrations and boycotts across the country.

“We have nothing against Gujarat or residents of that state. We are against the politics of riots that BJP had followed in that state and is trying to replicate here. As long as I am there I would never allow them to turn Bengal into Gujarat,” she declared.

“I had rightly said yesterday that there were outsiders involved in yesterday’s incident. I had seen some outsiders who were raising slogans there,” Ms Banerjee said, referring to her visit to a Kolkata hospital where she attempted, unsuccessfully, to end the strike.

Ms Banerjee has come under pressure to resolve the doctors’ strike with Union Health Minister Harsh Vardhan criticising her handling of the crisis and urging her to “show sensitivity and end the suffering of patients across the country”.

She was also criticised by award-winning filmmaker and actress Aparna Sen, who appealed to “mother” Mamata Banerjee to talk to junior doctors who have, thus far, stood firm in their demands.

The protests were sparked by an attack at the NRS Medical College in Kolkata on Monday that left two junior doctors seriously injured after a dispute with a family whose relative had died.

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