Calcutta, May 5: The Trinamul Congress today complained to the Election Commission against Narendra Modi within hours of his Faizabad rally hundreds of miles away, its alacrity underlining a sudden shift in Bengal politics.
Over the past week, Trinamul has been focusing its firepower on a BJP that seems to have snatched the main Opposition space from the CPM.
Between Serampore the Sunday before last and Asansol-Bankura yesterday, Modi has become Mamata Banerjee’s loudest critic in Bengal, whether on the Saradha scandal, rigging, the prices of her paintings or the condition of the state’s minorities.
Mamata too has been devoting most of the 40 minutes that her average campaign speech lasts to attacking Modi and his party.
She today told a Bongaon rally that Modi should be “sent to jail with ropes tied to his waist”, after calling for his arrest yesterday for allegedly inflaming the situation in Assam where violence has killed 32 people since Thursday.
Trinamul’s complaint to the poll panel, coming two days before Modi’s next Bengal visit, accuses him of “seeking votes in the name of religion” and “spreading communal disharmony”, sources said.
Mamata, fighting her first major election in Bengal without an ally, knows that targeting Modi may bring her a chunk of the state’s 27 per cent minority votes.
“He has become a gas balloon. Punch it, and the balloon will get deflated,” she said today, not naming Modi but identifying him as “Comrade Dangabaaj (Rioter)” in Bongaon, Deganga and Habra, which have sizeable minority populations.
Even BJP candidates such as Babul Supriyo, Bappi Lahiri and Joy Banerjee have faced the sort of belligerent attacks from Trinamul that were once reserved for Left leaders.
The BJP too kept up the heat on Mamata with Arun Jaitley alleging booth-capturing in Uttar Pradesh and Bengal.
CPM leader Mohammad Salim alleged the “public posturing” by Mamata and Modi were meant to serve a common purpose.
“Till now, Modi had never said a word against Mamata. Even now he is raising issues like (Bangladeshi) infiltration, which have given Mamata the chance to seek minority votes by projecting herself as their only protector,” Salim said.
He insisted the CPM remained the principal Opposition. “The BJP hasn’t been able to take that away from us even in the Trinamul’s perception.”
In 2009, the BJP had won Darjeeling with the Gorkha Janmukti Morcha’s support. It’s contesting all the 42 seats this time, with Morcha support in three north Bengal constituencies.
Its leaders are confident of a good showing at least in Krishnagar, Asansol, Howrah, Alipurduar, Jalpaiguri and Serampore.