"Never was a man born who can buy Asaduddin Owaisi with money," the AIMIM chief said today, hitting back at Mamata Banerjee after the Bengal Chief Minister said the BJP is "spending crores of rupees to bring in a party from Hyderabad to divide Muslim votes", in an apparent reference to Mr Owaisi's party. The Lok Sabha MP said Muslim voters are not Ms Banerjee's "jagir" or property.
"Never was a man born who can buy Asaduddin Owaisi with money. Her allegation is baseless and she is restless. She should worry about her own home, so many of her people are going to BJP. She has insulted the voters of Bihar and the people who voted for us," the All India Majlis-e-Ittehad-ul-Muslimeen (AIMIM) chief said a day after Ms Banerjee's attack.
Mr Owaisi's party, after its good show in the Bihar assembly polls, has announced to contest in next year's Bengal assembly election.
The AIMIM won five seats in the Muslim-dominated Seemanchal region in Bihar, bordering West Bengal.
"To divide the Muslim votes, the BJP is spending crores of rupees to bring in a party from Hyderabad. The plan is that BJP will eat into Hindu votes, and this Hyderabad party will eat into Muslim votes. In recent Bihar elections, they did the same thing. This party is a B-team of the BJP," Ms Banerjee said at a rally in Jalpaiguri on Tuesday.
"So far you've only dealt with obedient Mir Jaffers and Sadiqs. You don't like Muslims who think and speak for themselves. You've insulted our voters in Bihar. Remember what happened to parties in Bihar that kept blaming their failures on 'vote cutters. Muslim voters aren't your jagir," Mr Owaisi tweeted, responding to the Trinamool chief's remarks.
When Mr Owaisi announced he would field candidates in Bengal next year, analysts said the move could divide the minority vote and hurt the Trinamool, which draws the Muslim vote almost en bloc.
A splintered minority vote would mean fewer votes for the Trinamool. Therefore, dismantling the AIMIM in Bengal and getting its members to join the Trinamool is a masterstroke, analysts said.
Bengal will vote for the 294-member assembly someone in April or May next year.
(With inputs from PTI and ANI)