The battle lines are drawn. After Narendra Modi was repeatedly attacked by Bengal C.M Mamata Banerjee the P.M aspirant has returned the favours. In a scathing attack, Modi dismissed the paribartan (change) in Bengal as fake and promised real change if NDA comes to power. This has led to angry reaction from the ruling party. Since the Left is looking increasingly insipid and Congress confined to couple of districts, this Namo-didi faceoff is likely to add the much needed twist to spice up the entire election here in Bengal.
Change in approach
Modi was extremely charitable when he addressed a rally at Brigade Parade ground in Kolkata two months back. Most of his barbs were directed at Left and Congress. Namo virtually extended an olive branch to didi, saying that Bengal will have laddu in two hands once he becomes the P.M. He promised to cooperate with the state government. But a lot has changed since then. In rallies after rallies Mamata has spent a chunk of her time criticising BJP and Modi, especially about his alleged involvement in 2002 riots. According to pundits, alarmed by increasing popularity of BJP in the state didi has taken a very harsh line. Also it is seen as a ploy to bag majority share of the nearly 30 per cent minority votes in Bengal. In the same time, Narendra Modi’s stock has steadily risen if opinion polls are to be believed. Some of the polls are projecting NDA to get as high as 259 seats. Many believe, buoyed by the anticipation of success, Modi went hammer and tongs on Mamata in yesterday’s meeting at Shiliguri.
Promises to be a tough teacher
Incidentally Modi attacked her in an issue, where she is most vulnerable currently. The Sharada chit fund scam had made national headlines last year when lakhs of poor investors found themselves cheated off their deposits. It has been alleged that Sharada group owner Sudipto Sen was hands in gloves with some of the top leaders from the ruling party, Trinamool Congress. Government so far has vehemently opposed giving responsibility of the probe to C.B.I. The Left and Congress in the state have tried to rake up this issue but have been unable to cut much ice with the electorates due to their low credibility. Modi is the first national leader who has raised this issue. He indicated that he will be a tough teacher to control didi’s activity. This particular comment has sent tongues wagging in Kolkata. Many wonder if Saradha scam will be used as a bargaining chip with didi once Modi ascends the throne. Only time will tell. In a direct jibe Modi said that more didi gets her hand dirty in muck, the lotus will bloom quickly.
Chaiwallah in tea garden
North Bengal is known for its tea industry. Here Modi again played his chaiwallah card (who would have thought!). Sharing stage with Namo was leader of the Gorkha Janamukti Morcha, Bimal Tamang. Without explicitly pledging to form Gorkhakand, Namo spoke about the lack of respect for the Gorkhas in our society despite their great contribution especially in army. Many believe Modi said enough to not only pocket the Darjeeling seat but also exert significant influence in nearby constituencies.
Stung by this sudden attack, the ruling party was prompt to hit back. Mamata Banerjee’s Facebook page soon shared date regarding average 10 yearly growth rates to claim that Modi’s development image is a myth. Party spokespersons were busy sharing facts and figures to burst the Modi balloon. But in the end analysis, Narendra Modi won this round of altercation convincingly. He managed to change the discourse, get TMC out of their comfort zone. To those who can read signs out of tea leaves, it was a pre-cursor to coming times.