“Speed-breaker” vs “Expiry Babu” in Bengal

Published : April 04, 2019 15:06 IST

Prime Minister Narendra Modi and West Bengal Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee geared up their respective campaigns in Bengal for the Lok Sabha election on April 3 by launching a no-holds-barred attack on each other. Modi, who held two public meetings—in Siliguri and Kolkata—on the same day, accused Mamata of not allowing development to take place in the State.

“I have not been able to carry out development work in West Bengal with the same speed as the rest of the country. The reason for this is there is a speed-breaker in West Bengal. People know this speed-breaker by the name of Didi,” said Modi. He also attacked Mamata over her reaction to the air strikes on terror camps at Balakot in Pakistan. Mamata had wanted to know how many terrorists had actually died in the air strike and whether the bombs were dropped at the right place or not. “Mamata Banerjee, sitting in Kolkata, felt the same pain that was felt in Islamabad and other parts of Pakistan. The strikes were carried out there and the pain was felt here,” he said. Taking a swipe at the ‘Mahagathbandhan’ (Grand Alliance) of anti-BJP parties across the country that Mamata had brought together on a single platform in January, he said neither Didi nor her friends from the ‘Mahamilawat’ (Grand Adulteration) liked the strikes that were carried out in Pakistan.

Highlighting allegations of corruption in the Trinamool, he said “the aunt and her nephew are looting the resources of the State,” in a thinly veiled reference to the Chief Minister and her nephew Abhishek Banerjee, who is widely recognised as Mamata’s successor.

Modi was equally scathing in his attack on the Congress, calling its election manifesto a document of falsehood (“dhakosla patra”) that will expire on May 23 with the announcement of the Lok Sabha election results.” He said the Congress’s promise in its manifesto to review the Armed Forces Special Powers Act (AFSPA) was an attempt to weaken the armed forces and he accused the Congress of “bowing to terrorism” for the purpose of vote bank politics.

Mamata strikes back

Addressing a rally on the same day in Cooch Behar, which votes in the first phase of the election on April 11, the Chief Minister countered Modi’s attack point by point and launched a scathing attack of her own against him. She cited her government’s achievements in the State and said, “I heard he [Modi] said in Siliguri that we have not done anything for the poor. I challenge him to a debate. I will reply to everything he has to say…. Chowkidars should not lie. The 56-inch chest is now saying 560 lies,” she said. Re-christening him “Expiry Babu”, Mamata said the Prime Minister should be “ashamed of himself” for politicising the work of the armed forces.

Mamata also attacked the BJP Lok Sabha candidate from Cooch Behar, Nishit Pramanik, saying the Trinamool had expelled him and there were several criminal cases pending against him that were being investigated by the Central Bureau of Investigation. Nishit, a former Trinamool strongman in the district, is expected to give the ruling party a tough fight.

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