Prime Minister Narendra Modi, campaigning in Bengal days ahead of a make-or-break election, today used Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee’s “Khela Hobe (game on)” phrase to attack her and said: “Didi, O Didi – you played for 10 years. Khela shesh hobe, vikas aarambh hobe. (Now your game will be over and development will begin).”
PM Modi was speaking in Purulia ahead of the eight-phase Bengal election starting March 27, for which the ruling BJP has mounted an aggressive campaign to oust the two-time Chief Minister and her Trinamool Congress from power.
The Prime Minister targeted Mamata Banerjee over what he called corruption and lack of development, often switching to Bengali in the largely rural region.
“Didi says khela hobe, BJP says jobs; Didi says khela hobe, BJP says education; Didi says khela hobe, BJP says development; Didi says khela hobe, BJP says the rise of women; Didi says khela hobe, BJP says jobs; Didi says khela hobe, BJP says you will get a pucca house, clean water and taps in every home,” said the PM.
Addressing a sizeable crowd in the largely tribal region, the Prime Minister also accused Mamata Banerjee of encouraging Maoists.
“We know Didi and her people are even encouraging Maoists,” he alleged.
Declaring that the days of the Trinamool in Bengal were numbered, he said in Bengali: “Atyachar onek korechho Didi. Ebar Ma Durgar ashirbadey korbay tomaye oporosto (You have oppressed people for long. Now with blessings of Ma Durga, you will be defeated).”
In a wide-ranging takedown of the Trinamool Congress (TMC), PM Modi introduced his version of the party’s initials – “Transfer My Commission”.
In Bengal, the Centre was doing DBT or Direct Benefit Transfer, he said, “but in Bengal, it is TMC – Transfer My Commission”.
The PM accused the Trinamool government of betraying the tribals and the poor by depriving them of central benefits.
“The cut money, Tolabaji (commission), has hurt the poor and the Adivasis the most,” he told the gathering in the tribal-dominated region.
“Money for houses, TMC Tolabaj took a cut. We sent cheap rice for poor. TMC tolabaj did not spare that. We gave free rice during the lockdown, Didi’s tolabaj scammed it. When Cyclone Amphan came, same problem, there was no relief from the TMC cut money. Our santhal (tribal) brothers of this region…farmers have been seeking help. But Didi has left them to their own devices.”
The PM also spoke for the first time on Mamata Banerjee’s injury; she has repeatedly alleged that there was a conspiracy behind her leg being crushed by the press of crowds at Nandigram, where she is contesting against her one-time aide turned BJP rival Suvendu Adhikari.
“When Didi got hurt, I was worried. I pray for her quick recovery,” he said.
Making a slew of promises to deliver development and governance to the region, PM Modi said: “The countdown has begun. On 2ND May Didi is going. Ashol Parivartan is coming. Have no fear.”
Around the same time, Mamata Banerjee was campaigning at Garhbeta, around two hours away.
“I have been beaten. I have had surgeries in my hand, stomach. My legs were in good shape but now they are injured, my heart is hurt. I got my leg dressed yesterday but it is still not recovered. Yet I came back, because if there is a snake at the door, a tiger at the door… we cannot allow them to enter.”
She accused the BJP of grabbing farm land and cheating farmers. Referring to the BJP’s high voltage campaign, the Chief Minister said: “They (BJP) have booked all hotels, so many helicopters. They are spending money, 1,000 leaders have come from outside. But we have our women who work. We don’t want revenge…We want peace. But don’t let them grab your land. Don’t let them grab your crop. Modi’s people will do it. We will not allow it.”
The Trinamool Congress later hit back at PM Modi, accusing him of making empty promises and not delivering on them.
“This election is a fight for the constitution,” said Trinamool parliamentarian Derek O’Brien.
“You destructive party, I want to ask the PM only one question. Who is your Chief Minister candidate? We have Mamata Banerjee. Why can’t you name one? You know why? Because if you name A, then B and C will revolt. I challenge you. Name your Chief Minister,” said the Rajya Sabha MP.