Modi- Didi face-off in high stakes Bengal battle

Published : May 15, 2019 09:02 am | By: Anjali Chhabra

Modi- Didi face-off in high stakes Bengal battle

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The repeated violence during polling in West Bengal and the acerbic attacks among BJP and TMC leaders is a strong signal of possible shock results on the state’s 42 Lok Sabha seats. The eastern state appears to be on the cusp of ushering in a saffron wave with the TMC trying its best to hold on.


The BJP has managed to create a pro-Hindutva atmosphere in West Bengal for its mission to capture atleast 25 Lok Sabha seats out of the 42 in the state. But the stage for the saffron party to breach the Trinamool Congress citadel has come with painstaking efforts of Prime Minister Narendra Modi and BJP president Amit Shah who have gradually built the party in the state and repeatedly challenged Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee on her turf on issues ranging from corruption, development and minority appeasement.

While Didi has been calling Modi “expiry PM”, Modi and Shah accused her of being “speed-breaker didi” and anti-development, blaming her for turning “Sonar Bangla (golden Bengal) into Kangal (pauper) Bangla”.

In the campaign for the seven-phase polling in West Bengal, the Prime Minister and Shah repeatedly attacked Mamata on corruption — making a reference to alleged extortion by TMC party men which they called the "Trinamool Tolabaji (extortion) Tax" (TTT).

The BJP leaders also accused Mamata of shielding the corrupt in chit fund scams and trying to appease the minority community at the cost of Hindus who were denied permission for Durga Puja.

Shah promised, “We will restore the glory of Bengal. Mamata Banerjee has turned Sonar (golden) Bangla into Kangal (pauper) Bangla. She is only interested in protecting infiltrators to secure her vote bank. But her vote bank won’t be able to save her from imminent defeat.”

The caustic exchanges between Mamata and Modi touched a peak when the Chief Minister alluded to BJP’s defeat and claimed that democracy will deliver a ”slap” on Modi’s face. The Prime Minister made political fodder of her remark by saying that even a slap from Didi will be a blessing for him.

During electioneering, Bangladesh actors Ferdous Ahmed and Gazi Noor were seen canvassing for TMC candidates in Dum Dum and Raigunj, sparking a row. They were forced to return after the BJP complained to the EC. 

This prompted Modi to take a dig at the TMC at one stage of the violent and acrimonious campaign, which has claimed lives of workers of both the BJP and the TMC, over its so-called diminishing support. “Their condition is so bad that they are not able to bring people to their rallies. In desperation, they roped in actors from foreign countries to attract people. I feel pity for you Didi,” said the Prime Minister.

The stakes are so high for both the parties that the situation resembles that of hand-to-hand fight between their cadres in many constituencies.

Development model also became a matter of political ego between Modi and Mamata when both of them flaunted their own examples.

Modi said the "Trinamool Tolabaji (extortion) Tax" and black money of different mafia form the basis of the Mamata’s development model.

"She wants to give the country her own development model but her model is that of ‘speed-breaker didi’. It is based on Trinamool Tolabaji Tax, coal mafia, sand mafia, iron mafia and land mafia,” said a critical Prime Minister.

At one stage, Modi pointed to the brewing discontent within her party and claimed that “Didi, 40 of your MLAs are in contact with me”, an indirect reference to a possible realignment of forces in the West Bengal Assembly that has a strength of 295. The TMC had won 211 seats in the 2016 polls. 

Shah also showcased the Modi model of development. “The Opposition leaders are trying to secure the future of their brothers, husbands, sons, sons-in-law or nephews. But Modi is working only to secure the future of the country. I have been touring the entire country,” he said.

Not to be cowed down, Mamata kept countering every single jab at her by calling Modi the “greatest danger” for the country and said she will give her life to ensure that no riot takes place in the state, a reference to the BJP’s attempt to polarise voters to counter the TMC’s alleged leaning towards Muslims.

During the campaign, the BJP’s rath yatra was disallowed on security grounds by the TMC government and permission to land chopper of Shah was also not granted on a number of occasions.

The BJP president projected the alleged high-handedness of the TMC government as a reflection of its anti-Hindu thinking.

He even dared Mamata to arrest him for chanting “Jai Shri Ram”, claiming that the TMC supremo can stop him from attending rallies in Bengal but cannot prevent the saffron party’s “Vijay Rath” in the state.

“Mamata Didi gets angry if someone chants 'Jai Shri Ram'. I am chanting

'Jai Shri Ram' here today, if you (Mamata) have the guts, arrest me,” Shah announced at an election rally in Joynagar Lok Sabha.

The BJP president repeatedly slammed Mamata for being soft on infiltrators and described them as “termites”, which are eating into the resources of this country.

Reflecting the Modi government’s “muscular nationalism”, the BJP chief said his party will throw out infiltrators from West Bengal after coming to power at the Centre for a second term.

The repeated violence during polling in West Bengal and the acerbic attacks among BJP and TMC leaders is a strong signal of possible shock results on its 42 Lok Sabha seats. The eastern state appears to be on the cusp of ushering in a saffron wave with the TMC trying its best to not yield much ground.

The BJP has managed to create a pro-Hindutva atmosphere in West Bengal for its mission to capture as many as 25 Lok Sabha seats out of the 42 in the state. But the stage for the saffron party to breach the Trinamool Congress citadel has come with painstaking efforts of Prime Minister Narendra Modi and BJP president Amit Shah who have gradually built the party in the state and repeatedly challenged Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee on her turf on issues ranging from corruption, development and minority appeasement.

While Didi has been calling Modi “expiry PM”, Modi and Shah called her “speed-breaker didi” and anti-development, blaming her for turning “Sonar Bangla (golden Bengal) into Kangal (pauper) Bangla”.

In the campaign for the seven-phase polling in West Bengal, the Prime Minister and Shah repeatedly attacked Mamata on corruption — making a reference to alleged extortion by TMC partymen which they called the "Trinamool Tolabaji (extortion) Tax" (TTT). The BJP leaders also accused Mamata of shielding the corrupt in chit fund scams and trying to appease the minority community at the cost of Hindus.

Shah promised, “We will restore the glory of Bengal. Mamata Banerjee has turned Sonar (golden) Bangla into Kangal (pauper) Bangla. She is only interested in protecting infiltrators to secure her vote bank. But her vote bank won’t be able to save her from imminent defeat.”

The caustic exchanges between Mamata and Modi touched a peak when the Chief Minister alluded to BJP’s defeat and claimed that democracy will deliver a ”slap” on Modi’s face. The Prime Minister made political fodder of her remark by saying that even a slap from Didi will be a blessing for him.

During electioneering, Bangladesh actors Ferdous Ahmed and Gazi Noor were seen canvassing for TMC candidates in Dum Dum and Raigunj before being forced to return after the BJP complained to the EC. 

This prompted Modi to take a dig at the TMC at one stage of the violent and acrimonious campaign, which has claimed lives of workers of both the BJP and the TMC, over its so-called diminishing support.

“Their condition is so bad that they are not able to bring people to their rallies. In desperation, they roped in actors from foreign countries to attract people. I feel pity for you Didi,” said the Prime Minister.

Development model also became a matter of political ego between Modi and Mamata when both of them flaunted their own examples.

Modi said the "Trinamool Tolabaji (extortion) Tax" and black money of different mafia form the basis of the Mamata’s development model.

"She wants to give the country her own development model but her model is that of ‘speed-breaker didi’. It is based on Trinamool Tolabaji Tax, coal mafia, sand mafia, iron mafia and land mafia,” said a critical Prime Minister.

At one stage, Modi pointed to the brewing discontent within her party and claimed that “Didi 40 of your MLAs are in contact with me”, an indirect reference to a possible realignment of forces in the West Bengal Assembly that has a strength of 295. The TMC had won 211 seats in the 2016 polls.

 Shah also showcased the Modi model of development. “The Opposition leaders are trying to secure the future of their brothers, husbands, sons, sons-in-law or nephews. But Modi is working only to secure the future of the country. I have been touring the entire country.”

Not to be cowed down, Mamata kept countering every single jab at her by calling Modi the “greatest danger” for the country and said she will give her life to ensure that no riot takes place in the state, a reference to the BJP’s attempt to polarise voters to counter the TMC’s alleged leaning towards Muslims.

During the campaign, BJP’s rath yatra was disallowed on security grounds by the TMC government and permission to land chopper of Shah was also not granted on a number of occasions.

The BJP president projected the alleged high-handedness of the TMC government as a reflection of its anti-Hindu thinking.

He even dared Mamata to arrest him for chanting “Jai Shri Ram”, claiming that the TMC supremo can stop him from attending rallies in Bengal but cannot prevent the saffron party’s “Vijay Rath” in the state.

“Mamata Didi gets angry if someone chants 'Jai Shri Ram'. I am chanting

'Jai Shri Ram' here today, if you (Mamata) have the guts, arrest me,” Shah announced at an election rally in Joynagar Lok Sabha.

The BJP president repeatedly slammed Mamata for being soft on infiltrators and described them as “termites”, who are eating into the resources of this country.

Reflecting the Modi government’s “muscular nationalism”, the BJP chief said his party will throw out infiltrators from West Bengal after coming to power at the Centre for a second term.

Interestingly, in 2014 Lok Sabha polls the BJP had won only 2 seats in Bengal. The TMC had bagged 34. This time, Rajnath Singh has predicted that the BJP will win 30 seats in the current elections.

The May 23 results will show as to who among Modi and Mamata is invincible. The Bengal Chief Minister may feel a long term repercussion if she is beaten in her own backyard. A defeat in Lok Sabha polls will also be a setback to her Prime Ministerial ambitions. Also, if TMC fails to retain its supremacy in the Lok Sabha, its ranks may revolt against Mamata and the number game in the Bengal Assembly may also get reworked.

For Modi and Shah, winning as many as seats in West Bengal will be in the best interest of the BJP which is preparing to take a hit in Uttar Pradesh where the party’s tally is expected to come down drastically from 72 in 2014.


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