The Telegraph
Wednesday , April 23 , 2014
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No doubt on Mamata stand: Modi

Calcutta, April 22: Narendra Modi today said he had been certain all along that Mamata Banerjee would not join or support the NDA.

The BJP’s candidate for Prime Minister said he would reach out to all citizens, including Muslims, as his “brothers”.

Asked during an interaction with ABP News, ABP Majha and ABP Ananda whether he had changed his campaign tone on Mamata after he realised that she would not join the NDA, Modi said: “No, no, no…. Mamataji won’t come, that was certain, there was no doubt in my mind about this.”

However, this was not so evident on February 5 when Modi dished out “laddoos” for Mamata from the Brigade Parade Grounds in Calcutta, promising that if the BJP formed the government in Delhi, the Bengal government, too, would benefit.

There have been suggestions that the BJP central leadership was divided on whether to soft-pedal on Mamata, keeping post-poll possibilities in mind, or attack her with an eye on building the BJP’s base in Bengal.

Thereafter, at a rally in Siliguri, Modi raked up the Saradha scandal which has now become an election issue in Bengal.

Asked specifically about the place of Muslims in his scheme of things, Modi said: “I will never go by this terminology of yours. Even if you drag me, I will not. I will meet my countrymen. I understand only one language that they are my countrymen, they are my brothers. You may see with whatever colour you want, Modi will not go into that colour.”

During the TV interaction recorded on Sunday, Modi said: “The state which the Left had reduced Bengal to, Mamataji got a lot of time to recover, but those signs (of a turnaround) remain invisible, which makes me angry and I target Mamataji. Less of anger, more of disappointment.”

Asked about his statement in the Brigade Parade ground about laddoos, Modi said, “When I spoke of laddoos, the people did not tell me that I should have spoken of rosogolla instead.”

In response to question on how Mamata has been bringing up his personal life and the controversy over his marital status in the Lok Sabha 2014 affidavit, Modi said she was free to use “weapons at her disposal”.

“It’s her wish. She can use the weapons at her disposal. For that, what’s the point of feeling bad? What ought to be criticised should be left to the people to judge,” Modi said.

Modi further defended his attack on Mamata saying he was going to talk about issues relevant to the state he visited. “When I go to Maharashtra, I will talk about Sharad Pawar. When I go to Tamil Nadu, I will talk about Jayalalithaa. When I go to Bengal, I will talk about Mamataji. In Odisha, I will talk about Naveenbabu,”

On Saradha, when asked if there should be a CBI probe, Modi said the state government should adopt measures to increase credibility after such a large number of poor people lost their money and some even lost their lives.

On Gorkhaland, Modi remained non-committal. “In this huge country, if you try to throttle regional aspirations by the use of force, the wounds will become worse. If you try to understand sympathetically, try to make them understand sympathetically, roads for dialogue would open up. This is something that should be spoken about publicly and I have done that,” said Modi.

Regarding his fondness for Swami Vivekananda and the Belur Math, Modi said many monks at the Math are his friends.

Asked about his aspiration to become a monk at the Math, he said: “There are still some friends of mine who are monks there. They will tell you that I had gone to Swami Atmasthanandaji, who must be very old now, and spent a lot of time with him and his friends. That was another world. What do I say about that now?” he asked.