Far from the camaraderie with Mamata Banerjee that he confided to Akshay Kumar, Prime Minister Narendra Modi ripped into the Bengal Chief Minister at a rally in the state. The rest of the opposition wasn’t spared either. “Even those who are contesting no more than 25 seats, get ready with bells on to become the Prime Minister,” he said.
Mamata Banerjee, he said, became part of this because of the chit fund scams.
“Mamata thought that if there was a majboor sarkar (weak government) in Delhi, she could escape the chit fund noose… I promise you, action will be taken,” he said at an election meeting in Ranaghat, around 75 km from Kolkata.
What Mamata Banerjee did was “worse than the CPM”.
“She wanted army… President’s Rule in Bengal in the 2009 elections. People voted for her blindly. But what she has done now is worse than the CPM,” he said. “She has betrayed the people. Now, sadly, Mamata for goondas, for people, nirmamta,” the Prime Minister added, playing on “mamata“, which means affection.
In a “candid and non-political” interaction with Akshay Kumar earlier today, PM Modi indicated that he shares a good rapport with Mamata Banerjee, saying she sends him gifts regularly.
“People will be surprised and I should not say this in the election season, but Mamata didi sends me gifts every year. She still sends me one or two kurtasthat she picks herself a year,” the Prime Minister said.
The Chief Minister, he added, even started sending him sweets, emulating the example of Bangladesh Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina.
“I might have, but I’ll not yield a single vote,” Ms Banerjee retorted several hours later.
The Prime Minister’s comments come amid the bitter battle between the BJP and Ms Banerjee’s Trinamool Congress for the 42 Lok Sabha seats of Bengal.
The BJP, which edged out the CPM two years ago as the principal opposition in the state, is now out to expand their tally of seats from two to 22.
In the run-up to the election, the leaders had swapped allegations on economy, law and order and corruption.
Yesterday, during the third phase of voting, Ms Banerjee had accused the government of using central forces to influence the voters.
Get the latest election news, live updates and election schedule for Lok Sabha Elections 2019 on ndtv.com/elections. Like us on Facebook or follow us on Twitter and Instagram for updates from each of the 543 parliamentary seats for the 2019 Indian general elections.