Hours after West Bengal Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee declared at a public rally in Bengal's Purulia that she would like to treat Prime Minister Narendra Modi to a "tight slap of democracy", Union Minister Sushma Swaraj on Tuesday cautioned that such acrimonious words would not bode well on a future day when the two leaders end up having to cooperate for administrative purposes. She quoted a couplet penned by noted Urdu poet Bashir Badr to drive home her point.
"Mamataji, you crossed all limits today. You are the Chief Minister of a state and Modiji is the country's Prime Minister. You have to talk to him tomorrow. This is why I would like to remind you of a couplet written by Bashir Badr: Rage all you want but I just have this one request from you, do not feel ashamed when we have to become friends again someday," she tweeted.
— Chowkidar Sushma Swaraj (@SushmaSwaraj) May 7, 2019
Mamata Banerjee's outburst was sparked by PM Modi's assertion that her government amounts to being the state's "Triple T" -- short for Trinamool, Tolabaazi, Tax. Tolabaazi is a near-abusive term used in Bengali to describe organised extortion.
"Money does not matter to me. That is why when Narendra Modi came to Bengal and accused my party of being tolabaaz, I wanted to give him a tight slap of democracy," she said.
On Monday, the West Bengal Chief Minister had said that she did not return PM Modi's calls to discuss the effects of Cyclone Fani because she "does not want to share the dais with an expiry PM". "I do not consider him a Prime Minister now. When the new prime minister comes, we will speak with that person," she added.
The war of words took a turn for the worse after PM Modi made the extortionist reference. "If I am a tolabaaz, what are you? Your entire body - from head to feet - is drenched in the blood of people. Only riots, only riots and only riots," she thundered at a rally in West Bengal's Bishnupur.
The BJP hopes to make big gains in West Bengal, currently ruled by the Trinamool Congress, in the Lok Sabha elections. It had managed to win only two seats in 2014.
(With inputs from Agencies)