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Popularity of Trinamool, other parties declining in Bengal: Smriti Irani

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Kolkata, April 19 (IANS) Union Textiles Minister Smriti Irani on Wednesday said BJP’s progress in the recent Kanthi Dakshin assembly by-polls indicated the "declining popularity" of West Bengal’s ruling Trinamool Congress (TMC) and other political parties.

"It is indicative of the efforts put in by the BJP’s Bengal unit. It is also indicative of the declining popularity of TMC and other political parties in West Bengal," Irani told media persons here.

Referring to her party’s improved showing in the by-poll where it finished second, pushing the Left Front to third place, the Bharatiya Janata Party leader said: "It is indicative of the future directions the BJP is headed."

The Trinamool retained the Kanthi Dakshin assembly seat, with its share of votes going up.

"You cannot take citizens of West Bengal for granted anymore," the Minister said when asked about allegations that state Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee has not taken any steps against the accused party leaders and ministers in the Saradha chit fund and Narada sting operation cases.

Citing the success of Pradhan Mantri Ujjwala Yojana and Mudra Yojana, she said the BJP government has delivered in terms of development activities to the people of the state.

Asked about the state government slapping cases against BJP workers in the state, Irani said: "Law and order is a state subject. There is expectation from the constitutional framework that law would not be misused for politics."

She, however, declined to make any comment on CBI’s investigation in the chit fund and the sting operation case.

"As a union cabinet minister, I cannot talk about the ongoing investigation. It would be improper for me to do so," she said.

Irani said one should not create an environment that could subjugate any particular investigation agency to any kind of pressure.

"The courts and agencies will ensure that justice is done," she said, adding that her party and central government "respect constitutional procedural and due process of law".

Refuting state opposition parties’ allegations of an "understanding" between the Trinamool and the BJP, she said BJP workers were beaten up and supporters were threatened. "Does it mean any understanding," she asked.

Queried on the stand of a section of BJP state leaders that central leaders during their visit to Bengal should not remain soft on Trinamool Congress supremo Mamata Banerjee, Irani said: "I do not think so. Many senior BJP leaders have come to West Bengal. It is indicative of the support of government of India to Bengal, and is indicative of the support of BJP’s national president."

She also did not give a direct reply to a poser as to whether the Mamata government was appeasing the minorities.

"When you have deteriorating law and order situation that affects every citizen… When you have no electricity in rural areas, it affects everybody… When you have no industries to employ youth, that affects every family," she said.