Mamata Banerjee, matching Prime Minister Narendra Modi attack for attack in a fierce national election campaign in Bengal, threw an unusual challenge for him while campaigning in Bankura on Thursday.
An hour before she spoke at her poll rally there, PM Modi had earlier accused the Bengal Chief Minister of establishing "mafia" in coal mines and depriving mine workers of their remuneration. "You know better how Trinamool's mafia raj is continuing in coal mines here. Trinamool leaders are making money while mines workers are deprived of their remuneration," PM Modi said at a rally in Bankura.
Mamata Banerjee retorted that if he could prove the allegation against even one candidate then she would withdraw her candidates from all 42 Lok Sabha seats in Bengal.
"Modi has said the Trinamool candidate is coal mafia. I challenge him, prove it. I will withdraw all my candidates. If you are lying, you have to hold your ears and do a hundred Utthak Baithak (sit-ups)," Mamata Banerjee dared.
Coal, she added, comes under is the central government and BJP leaders were agents of coal transactions. "I have a pen drive. If I make it public, documents of coal mafias and cow smuggling would be out," warned Mamata Banerjee.
There will be two more phases of voting in Bengal for the national election, which ends on May 19. The results will be declared four days later on May 23.
PM Modi has intensified his campaign in Bengal, where his BJP is seen to have made significant inroads over the past few years. In 2014, the Trinamool Congress won a lion's share of the state's seats. This time, the BJP hopes to make up for its expected losses in heartland states like Uttar Pradesh, Rajasthan and Madhya Pradesh by scooping more seats in the east, in Bengal and Odisha.
At his Purulia rally, PM Modi also hit back at Mamata Banerjee for her comment on giving him a "slap of democracy" for his "tolabaazi" or extortion allegation against her party.
"I am told Didi has said she wants to slap me. Didi, oh Didi. I call you Didi. I respect you. Your slap will be a blessing for me," said the Prime Minister.
"I will accept it, but I will also say this - if you had the guts to slap your colleagues, who stole money from the poor via chit funds, you would not be so scared," he remarked.