Mamata Banerjee's comments on "minority extremism", targeted at AIMIM leader Asaduddin Owaisi, sparked a row on Tuesday. The Hyderabad MP hit back after being accused by the Bengal Chief Minister of "dividing communities".
It started with Mamata Banerjee saying at an event in Cooch Behar on Monday: "Extremism is emerging among minorities just as there are extremists among Hindus. There is a political party and they are taking money from the BJP, they are from Hyderabad, not from West Bengal." She did not name Mr Owaisi as she addressed the rally in the district bordering Bangladesh, where illegal immigration is a huge issue.
"If our work is extremism according to Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee, then I can't say anything. Extremism is that she let the BJP enter West Bengal and she is looking down to Muslims of the state as human indicators of Muslims are very low in the state," Mr Owaisi, the chief of the AIMIM or All India Majlis-e-Ittehadul Muslimeen said today.
"Please stop appeasing Muslims for vote," he added.
Mr Owaisi said the remarks betrayed the chief minister's "fear" and frustration.
"By making allegations against me you are giving the message to Muslims of Bengal that Owaisi's party has become a formidable force in the state. Mamata Banerjee is showcasing her fear and frustration by making such comments," said the Hyderabad MP.
He also tweeted that it was not religious extremism to say that Bengal's Muslims had one of the worst human development indicators of any minority.
"If Didi is worried about a bunch of us 'from Hyderabad' then she should tell us how the BJP won 18 of 42 Lok Sabha seats in Bengal," Mr Owaisi posted, taunting Ms Banerjee for the national election earlier this year, when the BJP vastly improved its tally at the cost of the Chief Minister's Trinamool Congress.
The Lok Sabha election results were seen by many as proof of the BJP making huge inroads into the territory of Mamata Banerjee, who has ruled Bengal since 2011.
The Chief Minister is striving to regain lost ground and make up for the losses as she campaigns for state elections in 2021.