Prime Minister Narendra Modi took a sharp dig at West Bengal Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee, calling her the "speed breaker" in the path of development. Ms Banerjee, who tweaked her campaign schedule so she could respond to PM Modi's attacks, has promised a reply at her rally later today.
"There is a speed breaker in West Bengal, who you know by the name of 'Didi'. This 'Didi' is the speed breaker of your development," PM Modi told the crowd at a massive rally in north Bengal's Siliguri from where he launched the BJP's national election campaign in Bengal. "I am waiting for this speed breaker to go so development can gather speed," he said.
PM Modi hit out at Ms Banerjee and her government over the chit fund cases in the state and development policies. He said Ms Banerjee has to go to make way for the betterment of the state.
The Prime Minister also attacked Ms Banerjee for pulling out of the central health scheme, Ayushman Bharat. "We told the poor that in case of sickness, they will be treated free of cost upto Rs. 5 lakh at hospitals and that they won't have to spend a single penny. But what has the speed breaker didi done? She has put a break on this scheme that can benefit the poor," PM Modi said.
PM Modi addressed another rally in Kolkata this evening where he attacked the Congress and Trinamool.
Mamata Banerjee has brought her campaign schedule forward by a day so she could respond to PM Modi soon right after he speaks. The Chief Minister was expected to launch her poll campaign in Cooch Behar in north Bengal on Thursday. Instead, the rally will be held today. The timing has been coordinated so that Ms Banerjee can begin as soon as PM Modi finishes his address in Kolkata.
As PM Modi left Siliguri for his next rally in Kolkata, Ms Banerjee arrived at the Kolkata airport to fly to north Bengal for her rally at Dinhata in Cooch Behar. She said she would respond to PM Modi at the rally itself.
The BJP is targeting more than 20 of West Bengal's 42 seats. The party, which practically had no footprint in the state, has made inroads, with its vote share ticking steadily upwards. But so has the Trinamool's, with the CPM and Congress losing supporters.