- PM claimed the 40 legislators will change camp after election results
- Will complain to poll body, lawmaker Derek O'Brien said in quick rebuttal
- The BJP is targeting 23 of Bengal's 42 Lok Sabha seats
Forty legislators of Mamata Banerjee's Trinamool Congress are in contact with the BJP and will change camp as soon as the results are announced, Prime Minister Narendra Modi claimed on Monday. The BJP is targeting 23 of Bengal's 42 Lok Sabha seats and the Prime Minister's extraordinary claim came amid what has practically been a quote-a-day battle with the Bengal Chief Minister. The Trinamool Congress said it has filed a complaint against him with the Election Commission.
Addressing a rally in Serampore -- a town less than 30 km from Kolkata -- the Prime Minister said: "Didi, on 23 May, the day of results, the lotus will bloom everywhere and your MLAs will leave you and run. Even today, Didi, 40 of your MLAs are in contact with me".
A quick rebuttal came from party lawmaker Derek O'Brien, who accused the Prime Minister of "horse trading" and said the party will complain to the Election Commission.
Expiry Babu PM , let's get this straight. Nobody will go with you. Not even one councillor. Are you election campaigning or horse trading! Your expiry date is near. Today, we are complaining to the Election Commission. Charging you with horse trading #LokSabhaElection2019— Derek O'Brien | ডেরেক ও'ব্রায়েন (@derekobrienmp) April 29, 2019
A later tweet from the leader read: "The complaint against Modi for horse trading has been filed with ECI. Monday, 7pm. Watch this space".
The Trinamool Congress won 211 of the state's 294 assembly seats in the 2016 assembly elections. In the Lok Sabha, it has 34 seats.
From practically no presence in the state, the BJP has slowly carved a niche in Bengal, edging out the CPM to become the state's principal opposition party. Its rise has been steady ever since Mamata Banerjee's close aide Mukul Roy joined in November, claiming the BJP would soon grab power in the state.
Mukul Roy is seen as spearheading the BJP drive to capture power in the state. Since his induction, around six TMC heavyweights have joined the BJP including Lok Sabha member Saumitra Khan, four-time legislator Arjun Singh, Dulal Bar and the party's expelled lawmaker Anupam Hazra.
The Prime Minister further warned that in the coming days, it would be difficult for the Chief Minister to survive, "since you have betrayed the people" - an apparent reference to the several Ponzi cases that hit Bengal over the last three years.
Accusing the Mamata Banerjee government of blatant corruption, he said, "From permission to admission, people have to shell out money. Those who don't agree with their ideology, they are hanged".
The Prime Minister's visit to Serampore took place on Monday as voting was held for eight Lok Sabha seats of Bengal. Amid violence, the BJP on Monday filed a complaint to the Election Commission, alleging targeting of its members and instances of booth capturing by members of the Trinamool Congress.
"This is Didi's oppressive regime, where intruders stay comfortably and patriots, Ram-bhakts, Durga-bhakts, Saraswati-bhakts have to live in the shadow of danger. This is Didi's oppressive regime where goons get complete security but the safety of sisters and daughters is not guaranteed," PM Modi said.