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Lok Sabha election: Modi-Mamata engage in a battle of words in Bengal

Modi said that by 2022 that every poor, Adivasi and Dalit family in West Bengal will be given their own pucca houses and will have electricity and gas in all homes

Avishek Rakshit & Ishita Ayan Dutt  |  Kolkata 

Lok Sabha Elections 2019
West Bengal Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee | Photo: PTI

PM and CM Mamata Banerjee, on Thursday, attacked each other as they jostled for control over West Bengal’s constituencies in the ongoing Lok Sabha elections.

While Modi harped on Mamata’s "slap of democracy" comment and alleged arrest of people chanting “Jai Shree Ram”, the chief minister focussed more on relying on opposition unity and the national sentiment of the voters to claim that the BJP will be voted out of power. Andhra Pradesh’s CM Chandrababu Naidu shared the dias with Banerjee in her rally at Kharagpur. Naidu was on a 2-day visit to this state.

Both Modi and Banerjee timed their rallies on the same day in Bankura and where the BJP has been swaying is presence and the wrestled for control after the Maoist influence in these tribal areas were brought under control.

Modi, in his opening speech in Bankura, saw it fit to first refer to Banerjee’s statement of "tight slap of democracy" and said, "The extent of Didi’s tension can be well understood from her language – she talks about slapping me. Didi, I am accustomed to verbal abuses and can digest it but your nervousness shows you are losing control".

Later, in the rally, Modi referred back to Mamata's statement again onnly to state that it will be a blessing for him if “Didi” slaps him.

Earlier, in one of her campaigns, Banerjee had asked people to slap Modi by means of democratic voting and equated that one vote against Modi is a slap on his face.

Then, referring to the incident when Banerjee said she doesn’t recognise Modi as the country’s prime minister and denied him a survey of cyclone affected areas in this state, the prime minister said, "She is publicly stating that she doesn’t recognise the PM of India but she feels proud to recognise the PM of Pakistan. When Cyclone Fani hit I called her twice, but her ego is such that she didn’t feel like talking to the PM of India”.

“Her treachery with Bengal's people and her ego will be reason of her downfall”, Modi predicted.

Modi said that by 2022 that every poor, Adivasi and Dalit family in will be given their own pucca houses and will have electricity and gas in all homes. Modi said his government will directly transfer money to the bank accounts of farmers and give pension to small traders and poor farmers aged 60 years and older.

Mamata alleged, "Elections for Bankura-are scheduled early owing to the unbearable heat; but this time to add on to people's discomfort, Modi has narrowed down on a late election schedule here”.

Using Bengali rhymes in her addresses, she claimed, "As days are passing by, afraid of losing election BJP leaders are talking nonsense. People get rabies when mad dogs bite, and BJP is getting a phobia of losing elections, its seats and its power. They don't do any homework".

While Naidu praised Banerjee terming her as "Bengal tigress" who can take on Modi, Mamata relied on the strengths of the Federal Front, claimed that the BJP will not have the necessary seats to form the government.

"The BJP will not get a single seat in Andhra Pradesh, Telengana, Kerala, Punjab, Odisha and West Bengal; last time, they won 73 seats from Uttar Pradesh based on which they could form the government; this time, they won’t manage even 13 seats from that state”, she predicted.

After meeting the Congress leadership in Delhi, Naidu landed in West Bengal on Wednesday and has been campaigning for leaders.

Naidu has been in touch with all major opposition parties including the Congress, Samajwadi Party, Rashtriya Janta Dal, and Aam Aadmi Party and has called a significant meeting of top opposition parties on May 21 – just 2 days ahead of the announcement of the Lok Sabha election 2019 results. In the meeting, formulation of a strategy to counter the BJP post the results is likely to be discussed.

First Published: Thu, May 09 2019. 20:03 IST