Andhra Pradesh Chief Minister N. Chandrababu Naidu said on Thursday that Trinamool Congress chief Mamata Banerjee was set to play a major role in national politics.
Sharing the dais with Ms. Banerjee at a public rally in Kharagpur on Thursday, Mr. Naidu said Prime Minister Narendra Modi was fighting a lost battle.
Accusing Mr. Modi of “victimising the Trinamool Congress and Mamata Banerjee”, the Andhra Pradesh Chief Minister said the Prime Minister had visited Bengal 16 times for election campaigns. “How many times have you [Mr. Modi] come to West Bengal for development work,” he asked.
On Ms. Banerjee’s request, Mr. Naidu addressed the crowd in Telugu to loud cheers.
Kharagpur, which houses the oldest IIT in the country and serves as important hub of South Eastern Railways, has a Telugu population of about 30%, and the community’s votes could prove crucial for the Medinipur Lok Sabha seat.
Returning the favour to Ms. Banerjee who had campaigned for the Telugu Desam Party in Andhra Pradesh, Mr. Naidu held rallies for two consecutive days in south Bengal.
He said Ms. Banerjee and the Trinamool Congress should win more seats so that West Bengal could have more clout and bargaining power.
“We want to save democracy, protect our nation and save our democratic institutions,” Mr. Naidu said.
Insult to statute: PM
Prime Minister Narendra Modi, who addressed two rallies at Bankura and Purulia during the day, said Ms. Banerjee had insulted the Constitution by saying she does not consider him the country’s Prime Minister.
“In desperation she is insulting the Constitution. She said she does not consider the country’s Prime Minister as the Prime Minister but she is proudly considering the Prime Minister of Pakistan as a Prime Minister,” Mr Modi alleged at a rally at Bankura.
He was referring to Ms. Banerjee’s speech at Gopiballavpur on April 29 when she said, “I do not consider him [Mr Modi] Prime Minister now. When the new Prime Minister comes, we will speak with that person.”
The Prime Minister said Ms Banerjee’s desperation was evident from the language she was using, “When it comes to me she is only talks about stones and slaps. I am used to such language,” he said.
Responding to Mr Modi’s remarks, Ms Banerjee said she had meant “slap of democracy” which the people will deliver by voting the BJP out of power. The Chief Minister who held three rallies across three districts of south Bengal, questioned why so many companies of central forces are being deployed for polls in West Bengal.