PM Narendra Modi calls CM Mamata Banerjee the biggest hurdle in West Bengal’s development
Mamata Banerjee hits back, says the Narendra Modi government's days were numbered
New Delhi: West Bengal flared up in a pitched political battle on Wednesday after Prime Minister Narendra Modi called chief minister Mamata Banerjee the biggest hurdle in the development of the state and she hit back saying the days of his National Democratic Alliance (NDA) were numbered.
West Bengal, with its 42 Lok Sabha seats, has turned into an election battle front as the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) tries to make inroads into Banerjee’s Trinamool Congress (TMC) bastion. In a multi-cornered contest, the Congress and Left parties, too, are in the fray after the failure of their alliance talks.
“There is a speed breaker in West Bengal, which you know by the name of Didi. Didi is the speed breaker in your development," Modi told a public meeting in Siliguri.
He held a second public meeting in Kolkata, where he repeated his allegation that the development of the state was being held back by Banerjee and her nephew, TMC leader Abhishek Banerjee.
“We have to build a Bengal, which is free from crime of Left and TMC. The dynasty rule of West Bengal has stopped development and upliftment of the poor in the state," Modi said at the Kolkata rally.
Banerjee launched a scathing attack on Modi on the heels of his rallies, calling him “Expiry Babu"—a claim that his tenure at the top job could end soon.
“Expiry Babu… I will not call him the pradhan mantri (prime minister) because his government has expired. You have said in Siliguri that our government does not work for the welfare of the poor. What have you done in five years? And, if you believe that what you have said is true, then you ask me and I will respond to it. Don’t lie to people every day. The prime minister should not be lying—bear this in mind," said Banerjee at a public meeting in Cooch Behar.
The Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) is hoping to play a decisive role in West Bengal politics by winning a substantial number of seats in the Lok Sabha polls. In the 2014 general elections, it could manage only two seats out of the 42, while TMC won 34.
“Expiry Prime Minister, keep in mind that it does not bode well for the PM to lie. I challenge you that our government has done more work in 100 days than you in five years and we are number 1. You don’t know West Bengal… I am not Modi, I don’t tell lies... You made a fool of people and garnered votes," she added.
During Modi’s day-long campaign, he said that opposition parties were coming together against him because his government at the centre had provided homes, toilets, electricity and gas cylinders to the poor.
“Some people, who were opposing Modi, are now working against the interest of the country. They doubt air strikes, surgical strikes and doubt the achievements of our soldiers. Didi and her supporters are saying things against India because they are losing political ground in this election," Modi said in Kolkata.
He also attacked the Congress a day after its manifesto release, saying the party’s pledge to amend the Armed Forces Special Powers Act (Afspa) will help terrorists based in Pakistan. Modi said the manifesto was a fake document and that the party had always been soft on terror.
“Congress has always tried to weaken the country. Now they want to remove the security cover of soldiers by amending Afspa. Congress has always been soft on terror," Modi said.
Responding to BJP’s attack on the issue of Afspa earlier in the day, Congress’ chief spokesperson, Randeep Singh Surjewala, told reporters that the party had not asked for removal of the Act and was only following the guidelines of the Supreme Court on the issue.