In PM Modi vs Mamata Banerjee, "Speed Breaker Didi" vs "Voter Strike"

At Siliguri, he called West Bengal Chief Minister and Trinamool chief Mamata Banerjee "Speed Breaker Didi", blaming her for Bengal lagging behind in development because central schemes were running into the Mamata wall

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In Kolkata, PM Modi accused Mamata Banerjee of Congress style dynasty politics.


Kolkata: 

The BJP is celebrating Prime Minister Narendra Modi's Bengal visit on Wednesday with a double barrel gun.

At Siliguri, he called West Bengal Chief Minister and Trinamool chief Mamata Banerjee "Speed Breaker Didi", blaming her for Bengal lagging behind in development because central schemes were running into the Mamata wall, as he put it. In Kolkata, he accused her of Congress style dynasty politics.

"The bua-bhatija dynasty style politics has to end in Bengal," he said.

Mamata Banerjee must have watched PM Modi's Siliguri rally before she left for north Bengal to address her first campaign rally at Dinhata in the Cooch Behar parliamentary seat. She had tweaked her schedule to hold it on the same day as the PM's twin rallies. And she did hit back.

"Take care of Delhi First, then look at Bengal," she said. "You will now see a voter strike which will be the true surgical strike. Is everyone the country's enemy and Modi its only friend? I don't need a patriot certificate from him," she added.

Mamata Banerjee also once again issued PM Modi a challenge to an open debate.

PM Modi has not responded to the challenge yet.

The BJP was glad the prime minister addressed local issues. In Siliguri, he spoke of the troubles faced by tea garden workers. In Kolkata, he brought up the chit fund scam. Most chit fund victims are from south Bengal.

But more than his speeches, it was the turnout that has put BJP into celebration mode. They are calling it a "bumper" turnout, a very Bengali way of saying "fantastic". And indeed, given the numbers at PM Modi's first Brigade rally in 2014, the increase in five years is dramatic, undeniably and visibly so.

And PM Modi was clearly pleased.

"Kolkata's Brigade Parade Ground has never seen a bigger turnout," he said. That is debatable but what is not is the energy and enthusiasm of the crowds who chanted "Modi, Modi, Modi" at every opportunity.

Observers also remarked on the age profile of the crowds. Youthful, men and women, though more men. And they came from across south Bengal - Purulia, Jhargram, West Midnapore. And from around Kolkata.

"I am a CA and I love Modiji," said a woman in her 20s sporting a T-shirt saying, "main bhi chowkidar."

PM Modi interacted with the crowd, asking for answers to his question. "Are you proud of what India did at Balakot?" he said. The thundering response: "Yes". As he wound up his speech and the Modi, Modi chant began, so did the "betting" as it were on the number of seats BJP would win in Bengal this time.

"I think 15," said a woman called Mamata Singh. Her name caused ripples of laughter. "Not 15, we will get 22 like Amit Shah said," said a youth. "No no not 32. 22," shouted a third. A fourth, fifth and sixth said 42 on 42.

"Till now, I thought BJP would meet Shah's target of 23. Now 42 is looking possible. And this is only Modi's first rally in Kolkata. More to come and more seats too," he said.

Mamata Banerjee is not going to let BJP walk all over Bengal. "They do meeting in hangars, hangars full of money," she said, referring to nine huge airport style hangars put up by BJP on Brigade Parade Ground to keep supporters cool during Modi's rally. She has been questioning BJP's source of money for its high power campaign.

"Don't take panga with Bengal," she said to loud cheers.

Mamata Banerjee held her first rally in Dinhata in the Cooch Behar parliamentary seat because that seat goes to the polls in the first phase along with Alipurduar on April 11.

BJP chief Amit Shah has already campaigned at Alipurduar. PM Modi will in Cooch Behar on April 7.



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