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OPINION | Will Modi overtake Mamata in Bengal this time?

Modi addressed two election rallies in Barasat and Jadavpur, and in his Kolkata road show, the theme was “Baangalir Maney Modi” (Modi in the mind of Bengalis).

Written By: Rajat Sharma @RajatSharmaLive New Delhi Updated on: May 29, 2024 17:44 IST
India TV Editor-in-Chief Rajat Sharma
Image Source : INDIA TV India TV Editor-in-Chief Rajat Sharma

Prime Minister Narendra Modi said on Tuesday that West Bengal would come up with the most surprising results on June 4 (counting day) and “Mamata’s fort will crumble this time”. Modi also predicted a big change in neighbouring Odisha too, where, he said, Chief Minister Naveen Patnaik’s 25-year-old rule would come to an end. Modi was addressing election rallies in both states. He took out a massive road show in North Kolkata on Tuesday evening. The last phase of polling in Bengal will take place on June 1 for nine parliamentary seats. Both Trinamool Congress and BJP have put their full might to garner public support. In Bengal, Modi gave a new ‘guarantee’ on Tuesday. He said, “ten years ago, I had given the slogan “Na Khaoonga, Na Khaane Doonga”, but this time, I want to add ‘Jihnone Khaaya, Unse Wapas Vasoolunga, Jinka Khaya, Unhen Lautaoonga’ (I will collect ill-gotten money and give back to those who lost their money).” 

It is a close fight in Bengal, with Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee claiming that her party would not allow BJP to take roots in the state. Modi addressed two election rallies in Barasat and Jadavpur, and in his Kolkata road show, the theme was “Baangalir  Maney Modi” (Modi in the mind of Bengalis). With Rabindra Sangeet playing on loudspeakers along the 2-km long road show. Party supporters threw flower petals at Modi. In 2019, BJP had won 18 out of a total of 42 Lok Sabha seats in Bengal. This time the battle is tough. The road show began from Baghbazar, where Modi offered flowers at Maa Sharda’s residence, paid homage to Netaji’s statue, and ended his roadshow by praying at Swami Vivekananda’s mansion on Shimla Street. In his speeches, Modi lashed out at Trinamool Congress, Left and Congress-led INDIA bloc and said, those who are saying democracy is in danger must come to Bengal and watch Mamata’s autocratic rule where her party goons rule the roost. Attacking Mamata’s famous slogan ‘Maa, Maati, Maanush’, Modi said, Mamata Banerjee has only given fear to mothers, insulted Bengali’s soil and gave inhuman treatment to human beings. 

“The people of Bengal”, he said, “will now teach Mamata a lesson….Her government has insulted Hindus and has indulged in appeasement of Muslims…The situation will now change.” In Kolkata on Tuesday, Mamata Banerjee marched with her party supporters for nine km and replied to Modi’s charges. Mamata Banerjee said, “Modi’s words will have no effect in Bengal, and BJP will be uprooted from the state.” She described Modi as a “caretaker Prime Minister, who has made empty promises…The people of Bengal know the truth and they will teach BJP a lesson”. The electoral battle in Bengal has become a prestigious one, both for BJP and Trinamool Congress. There is, however, one difference. Mamata Banerjee has staked a lot on this election, while BJP has nothing to lose in Bengal. In the last Lok Sabha elections, BJP had increased its tally from two to 18, and TMC’s tally declined from 38 to 22. 

This is the reason why Mamata Banerjee appears to be worried and BJP is firing on all cylinders. The nine LS seats that will witness polling on June 1 are considered TMC’s strongholds. Trinamool Congress had won all these nine seats five years ago. The fate of Mamata’s nephew Abhishek Banerjee from Diamond Harbour, Saugata Roy from Dum Dum and Sudeep Bandopadhyay from North Kolkata is at stake.  Reports from Bengal say, Abhishek Banerjee is not in a strong position presently in Diamond Harbour, and this can make Mamata worried. In the last assembly elections in Bengal, poll strategist Prashant Kishore had played an important role for Mamata Banerjee. This time, Prashant Kishore has predicted that BJP would win more LS seats in Bengal compared to last time. This could become a big political setback for Mamata Banerjee.

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