PM Modi was, however, conspicuous by his silence on the vandalism of Bengali polymath Ishwar Chandra Vidyasagar’s bust in a violent attack.
Kolkata: Equating Trinamul Congress supremo Mamata Banerjee’s rule in West Bengal with the 1975-77 Emergency period, Prime Minister Narendra Modi on Wednesday attributed her “revenge” to her party workers’ attack on BJP president Amit Shah’s mega roadshow in central Kolkata a day earlier. He pointed out that the violence by Trinamul workers reflected Ms Banerjee’s fulfilment of her “revenge”.
Mr Modi was, however, conspicuous by his silence on the vandalism of Bengali polymath Ishwar Chandra Vidyasagar’s bust in a violent attack, allegedly by armed BJP supporters, on a college named after the icon, which has overnight swung the political mood across the state, putting the saffron party on the backfoot ahead of the last phase of the Lok Sabha polls, which includes four major constituencies across the city.
While the PM mentioned the names of many Bengali luminaries in his speech to highlight the state’s rich past, Vidyasagar’s name was missing on his list. Tearing into the West Bengal CM, Mr Modi ridiculed her for respecting the Pakistani PM instead of her own country’s PM and her open support for that country in the wake of the Balakot airstrike.
Mocking Ms Banerjee’s painting skills, the PM sarcacastically asked her to draw a “worst portrait” on him. He requested her to gift it to him in person at his residence after May 23, when he would become PM again. Mr Modi assured the Trinamul chief of not lodging an FIR against her, in an oblique reference to the arrest of BJP youth wing leader Priyanka Sharma by the state police for her meme on Ms Banerjee.
At a campaign rally at Taki in North 24 Parganas, the PM told Ms Banerjee: “You send those taking the name of God to jail. BJP leaders are not allowed to hold rallies here while voters are not allowed to cast their vote, and candidates are attacked. Which era are you pushing Bengal to? I remember such a thing happened during the election just after the Emergency.”
He added: “People were stopped from casting their vote this way. You have pushed Bengal to that period of the Emergency.” Blasting the Trinamul chief, Mr Modi alleged: “The whole country has seen pictures of Kolkata on Tuesday. It is discussed across the entire country. Didi has been tense due to the BJP’s rise in West Bengal. And the country and the world are seeing the standard a worried Didi has fallen to.”
The PM said: “Barely two days ago Mamata Didi had issued an warning. She vowed in public to take revenge by every inch. Fulfilling her declared agenda in the next 24 hours, she masterminded an attack on the BJP president’s roadshow and unleashed violence, trying to trigger panic. However, university students have started exposing the politics being played by you and your agents.”
He noted: “Didi has lost so much mental balance that she says: ‘I am not ready to accept the PM of India as a PM. She is ready to accept the PM of Pakistan as a PM but not that of India’.”
Mr Modi told Ms Banerjee: “Your paintings are sold in the name of Saradha and Narada. From this platform in Bengal I make a request you to cool your anger. You are an artist and a painter. Draw the worst portrait on me. You must make it. Please come to my residence and gift it to me following my oath-taking as PM after May 23. I will accept that and treasure it with me my whole life. I will not lodge any FIR against you.”
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