Prime Minister Narendra Modi on Sunday launched a diatribe against Mamata Banerjee, saying she had once sought the expulsion of Bangladeshi “infiltrators” and was raising voice against the Citizenship (Amendment) Act now.
Other than the Congress and “urban naxals”, the Bengal chief minister featured prominently in Modi’s address at Ramlila Maidan in New Delhi to kick-start the BJP’s campaign for Delhi Assembly polls.
The Prime Minister took long pauses — one was over 20 seconds long — to absorb the applause from the audience as he tore into Mamata.
“Aaj Didi… (paused for cheers) Mamatadidi… Ab dekho bhai khel (Today Didi… Mamatadidi… now, brother, see the game). Mamatadidi seedhi seedhi seedhi, Didi seedhi Kalkatta sey UNO pahuch gayi. Sanyukta rashtra sangh pahuch gayi (Mamatadidi straight straight straight, Didi straight went to the United Nations from Calcutta. Reached the UN),” he said amid loud laughter and chants of “Modi, Modi, Modi” from the audience.
The UN jibe was in the context of Mamata’s demand on Thursday for a UN-monitored “opinion poll” on the CAA and the National Register of Citizens.
“But, till a few years ago, this same Mamatadidi, standing in Parliament, was petitioning that infiltrators coming in from Bangladesh be stopped. That the afflicted refugees who have come from there be helped. Inside Parliament, in front of the Speaker, she used to throw papers… against Bangladeshis,” Modi said referring to an alleged plea by Mamata during her time in the Opposition in Bengal.
“Didi….” Modi paused for over 20 seconds as the audience laughed and cheered.
“Didi, Mamatadidi, Didi… ab aapko kya ho gaya? Aap kyun badal gayi? Aap kyun afwah phayla rahi ho (what happened to you now? Why have you changed? Why are you spreading rumours)?” the Prime Minister asked.
“Arrey, elections come and go, power comes and goes. Itni darri kyun ho rey (Hey, why are you so scared)? Have faith in the people of Bengal. Why have you lost faith in them? Why have you decided they are your enemy?” he asked.
“Today, she is raising questions on the law…. Anyway, we understand your problem. The people seated here also know. All of Hindustan is watching carefully whom you support and whom you oppose,” he added.
Modi mentioned Mamata’s name when he referred to statements by many chief ministers that they would not allow the CAA’s implementation in their respective states.
The Prime Minister also claimed that relations with Bangladesh had never been so good as under him. Mamata had accused him of having taken the ties with Bangladesh to an all-time low.
The Trinamul Congress chief issued a rejoinder to Modi’s fulmination on Twitter soon after. “Whatever I said is there in public forum, whatever you said is there for people to judge,” she posted on the microblogging site.
“With #PM contradicting #HomeMinister publicly on Nationwide NRC, who is dividing fundamental idea of India? People will definitely decide who is right & who is wrong #IRejectCAA #IRejectNRC,” she added, calling Modi out over the difference between his tone and that of Union home minister Amit Shah over pan-India NRC.