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Buddha’s Modi vs Didi’s Modi

- CPM leader targets BJP to counter Mamata attack

Calcutta, March 23: Buddhadeb Bhattacharjee today slammed the “communal” BJP and its prime ministerial candidate Narendra Modi, focussing on an adversary Mamata Banerjee has been targeting in the past few days.

In an interview with PTI, the former chief minister hoped that the CPM would not have to support the Congress as it had done in 2004, but did not close the door on such a possibility.

“We will try to prevent the BJP with all our strength. But that doesn’t mean we welcome the Congress’s neo-liberal policies, which have been rejected by the people. They should be defeated. They have built two Indias, one for the rich and one for the poor,” he said.

The CPM politburo member dubbed Modi a threat to the secular fabric of the country, making an allegation Mamata has been iterating at several public forums in the past few months.

At her Brigade rally in January, the Bengal chief minister had referred to her Gujarat counterpart as “dangar mukh (face of riots)”. In subsequent Trinamul workers’ conventions, she took care to explain the “threat” posed by the BJP.

The unfamiliar four-cornered Lok Sabha poll contest in Bengal, the nationwide wave in favour of Modi and the possibility of the BJP improving its vote share in the state have probably prompted the two Bengal leaders to target the BJP, sources in Trinamul and the CPM said.

Referring to Modi, Bhattacharjee said during his interview with PTI: “It is not a simple ambition of a single leader. It is a joint sponsorship of the RSS and Indian corporates. It is a very dangerous development.”

CPM sources said tonight that Mamata’s “sudden” outburst against Modi had prompted Bhattacharjee to raise the pitch against the BJP and its candidate for Prime Minister.

“We are not against any individual. We are against communal forces. But the way Mamata has begun targeting Modi all of a sudden, Buddhada had to step up his pitch against him to drive home the point that her opposition to the Gujarat chief minister is merely a tactic to send a message to the minority community before the Lok Sabha polls,” CPM state secretariat member Rabin Deb said.

In the interview, Bhattacharjee criticised Modi’s development model, choosing a theme Mamata has been highlighting. Drilling holes into the Gujarat development model, Mamata has drawn attention to Gujarat’s higher child mortality rate, the state’s maritime advantage over Bengal and its lower debt burden.

Bhattacharjee sought to draw a distinction between Modi’s “corporate-oriented” development and the Left’s “inclusive” development. “It is not a happy situation in Gujarat as far as education, health, etc, are concerned,” the CPM leader said.

Told that various surveys had put Modi ahead of the others in the prime ministerial race, Bhattacharjee shot back: “So what? That does not mean his policies are justified, they are good…. Hitler had won the elections in Germany in 1933, does that mean his policies were right?”

The former chief minister refused comment on Rahul Gandhi, saying: “He is trying to take over. Let him try. I don’t want to comment on that boy.”

Bhattacharjee, whose party’s efforts to form a third front has been hit hard by Jayalalithaa’s decision to call off alliance talks, said there were “no takers” for the federal front being pursued by Mamata. “They know her style of functioning,” he said.

He said it was “not part” of the Left’s tactical line “to somehow mobilise some political forces and join the Congress bandwagon after the polls”.

Asked if the CPM would support the Congress, Bhattacharjee said: “Only if a situation like 2004 arises, and if there is no other way. But we hope that a situation like 2004, when we had to side with the Congress to stop the communal BJP, will not arise again.”