Modi, Didi spar in Bengal

The verbal war came ahead of the seventh phase of the general elections on June 1, when nine seats in state capital Kolkata, South 24 Parganas and North 24 Parganas are scheduled to go to the polls…reports Asian Lite News

Prime Minister Narendra Modi and chief minister Mamata Banerjee clashed during the campaign trail in the battleground state of West Bengal on Tuesday as the two leaders addressed multiple rallies and held road shows to canvass voters ahead of the final phase of the general elections this weekend.

Speaking at two rallies in Baruipur and Barasat, Modi accused the Trinamool Congress government of appeasement politics and deceiving young people from other backward classes (OBC), pointing to a recent Calcutta high court ruling that scrapped OBC certificates to 77 groups since 2010. He also held a road show in north Kolkata.

Hours later, Banerjee, who held two foot marches cutting through the heart of Kolkata and addressed a rally, hit back as she reiterated her opposition to the controversial court order and accused Modi of lying to the people of India.

The verbal war came ahead of the seventh phase of the general elections on June 1, when nine seats in state capital Kolkata, South 24 Parganas and North 24 Parganas are scheduled to go to the polls. This is a crucial phase for both the Bharatiya Janata Party, which performed impressively in other parts of the state but drew a blank here in 2019, and the TMC, which is looking to defend its fortress in south Bengal.

With just four days to go, Modi slammed the TMC for apparently attacking the judiciary over the high court verdict. “I was taken aback. Questions are now being raised on the intention of the judges and the judiciary. I want to ask the TMC whether they would now unleash its goons on the judges. The entire nation is seeing how the TMC is throttling the judiciary,” Modi said at Barasat in North 24 Parganas.

Without naming Banerjee, Modi said the court exposed the “treachery” of the TMC. “The party snatched the rights of OBC youth to support its appeasement politics and vote jihad. The TMC has betrayed the OBCs of West Bengal,” he said.

The Prime Minister also said “he didn’t allow any scam to take place at the Centre”.

“Ten years ago, I gave a guarantee: Na khaunga, na khaane dunga. I didn’t allow a single scam to take place at the Centre in these 10 years. Now Modi is giving another guarantee to the country and to West Bengal in particular. Jisne khaya hai, use bahar nikalunga aur jiska khaya hai usko main lautaunga,” he said in Barasat.

Last week, the Calcutta high court scrapped OBC certificates awarded to 77 communities since 2010, an overwhelming majority of them Muslim, in West Bengal. observing that such reservations were “illegal”.

“Religion indeed appears to have been the sole criterion” for declaring these communities as OBCs, the court said, adding that it “is of the view that the selection of 77 classes of Muslims as backwards is an affront to the Muslim community as a whole”.

The state government has said that it will move the Supreme Court against the verdict.

“It is quite evident that TMC doesn’t like those who expose its treachery and lies. I am astonished to see how the party is questioning the judiciary. Don’t they have any faith in the judiciary and our Constitution?” Modi asked.

Hours later, Banerjee hit back.

“A few days back 1.5 million OBC certificates were scrapped. I don’t accept this order. I am a lawyer too. I can’t say anything against judges but I can speak against the judgment,” Banerjee said on Tuesday evening in Behala.

“He will be able to call himself Prime Minister for another week or so. After that he will have to use the word former. Today he said he monitored the cyclone from Delhi. It is a blatant lie. Does it suit him? Telling lies is not the PM’s constitutional right,” Banerjee said.

She was referring to the Modi’s statements in Barasat, where the Prime Minister said: “We all faced the cyclone with the blessings of Goddess Kali. The Union government was constantly monitoring it. I was also in constant touch. NDRF and other teams did a good job. The Centre is providing all help to the state.”

In the evening Modi held his first-ever road show in Kolkata. The vibrant cavalcade started from the Shyambazar crossing. He paid tribute to Netaji Subhas Chandra Bose at a statue at Shyambazar before starting his roadshow.

The roadshow terminated at the ancestral residence of Swami Vivekananda on Simla Street in North Kolkata, with people thronging the route.

Banerjee, meanwhile, walked 9km in her two roadshows. In the first, she walked from Birati Banik More to Airport gate number two on Jessore Road. In the second, Banerjee walked from Entally Market in the northern part of the city to Ballygunge Phari in south Kolkata.

Earlier in the day, the PM mounted an attack on the TMC on multiple fronts, including alleged appeasement politics, corruption, opposition of the Citizenship Amendment Act, recent controversies involving some monks, and allegations of sexual assault on women in Sandeshkhali.

“The Trinamool has started abusing Hindu monks and ascetics. Ramakrishna Mission, ISKCON and Bharat Sevashram Sangha are respected all over the world. But TMC has started abusing them to carry forward its agenda of vote jihad,” he said.

He was referring to Banerjee’s statements on May 18 in which she had accused a section of monks of helping the BJP, prompting a raft of criticism. Banerjee later said that she wasn’t against the organisations.

Later in the day, in Baruipur, Modi asked the people to vote for the BJP.

“Ask 100 people as to which government is coming to power, 90 would tell you that the Modi government is coming. If it is certain that the Modi government is coming so why waste votes? Your votes should be used to strengthen the government at the Centre.”

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