Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi and West Bengal Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee took swipes at each other at simultaneous election rallies in Bengal yesterday as the election campaign for the state assembly heats up a notch further ahead of third-phase of voting in the restive state.
PM Modi added a twist to Mamata's "khela hobe (game on)" dig at him - he said it's "khela sesh (game over) if players keep criticising umpires", alluding to the Trinamool's repeated criticism of the Election Commission.
Mamata, campaigning at North 24 Parganas district, just 58 km from Tarkeshwar, where PM Modi was giving an election speech, attacked the BJP using the Trinamool's main weapon - that of calling the BJP a party of "outsiders" in Bengal.
"BJP wants to divide Bengal... These people want to end Bengal, its language, its culture," Mamata, on a wheelchair nursing her plastered leg, said. "I request to all the minority brothers and sisters not to allow their vote division," she said.
Mamata on Thursday slammed the Election Commission (EC) over the "inaction to complaints" filed by her party even during the second phase of polling to the West Bengal assembly.
There had been reports of sporadic violence and minor clashes from various constituencies, including the high profile Nandigram, where Mamata locked horns in a high-stakes electoral battle with her former lieutenant Suvendu Adhikari now with the BJP. Amongst the complaints were allegations of "booth capturing" and massive fake voting in Boyal.
PM Modi used his Lok Sabha constituency, Varanasi, to make the Trinamool's "outsider" comment at BJP ricochet back to Mamata's party.
"Didi is now looking for a place outside. Welcome to Varanasi. There is a ship that goes from Haldia to Varanasi. One more thing, the people of my Benaras, they are so large hearted they won't call you a tourist or outsider. They are as large hearted as the people of Bengal," the PM said.
PM Modi has been taking a whirlwind tour of Bengal to add power to the BJP's campaign in its bid to dislodge the government run by Mamata's Trinamool Congress for 10 years.
"Didi says people take money to attend BJP rallies. Didi, Bengalis are self-respecting people. Didi, you have insulted the people of Bengal with this statement. Did anyone come here today for money?" PM Modi said in Hooghly yesterday.
"A major reason for Didi's bewilderment is her report card of 10 years. Old industries have been shut down. Possibilities of new industries, new investment, new business and employment have also been closed down," Modi said.
The third of the eight-phase election in Bengal's 294 assembly seats will be held on April 6. Results are expected on May 2.