Kolkata: BJP's prime ministerial candidate Narendra Modi on Wednesday took a swipe at Congress vice president Rahul Gandhi for running from lane to lane in his constituency on polling day while accusing West Bengal Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee of "growing blind in the lust for power".
Narendra Modi. File pic
Addressing three election meetings in West Bengal - at Krishnanagar of Nadia, Barasat of North 24 Parganas districts and Kolkata, Modi raised the pitch over his demand for packing off Bangladesh infiltrators, which his party has been trying to make an issue in the eastern state.
Taking a dig at Gandhi, who visited a number of polling booths of Amethi during the day, Modi said those who never used to visit their constituency even once in five years "have been forced to bow down to the electorate".
The people in the Uttar Pradesh constituency have "crushed the pride of those who used to consider it as their pocket borough". Amethi went to the polls Wednesday.
The Bharatiya Janata Party leader, who has canvassed extensively for his party in Bengal, holding eight rallies criss-crossing the state, flayed Banerjee for the rising number of crimes against women and ridiculed her over the multi-crore Saradha scam.
Addressing Banerjee as "didi" (elder sister), Modi wondered why Banerjee, who had expressed concern in 2005 about rising Bangladeshi infiltration was now speaking in their favour.
"Didi (Banerjee), it was you who in 2005 had thrown papers at the (deputy) speaker in parliament and shouted how Bangladeshi infiltrators were destroying Bengal and wanted them to be driven out. What Modi is saying today, you had said in 2005," he said.
Claiming that native Bengalis had to wait for jobs while Bangladeshi infiltrators were getting them on a platter, Modi asked Banerjee to dare the Supreme Court which has observed that the infiltration is aggression against India.
"What made you turn against Bengal? You have grown blind in the lust for power," he added.
"You used to fight for the people. We used to be proud of you for your fight for the common man. But how did you change, you are now fighting for the chair," Modi said.
The BJP leader also did not spare the Left Front over the issue, invoking then union home minister and Communist Party of India leader Indrajit Gupta who had expressed concern in 1997 over the growing number of Bangladeshi infiltrators.
Modi also recalled how CPI-M leader Buddhadeb Bhattacharjee as chief minister had expressed concern over the activities of madrassas in the areas bordering Bangladesh.
Both the BJP and Trinamool have been engrossed in bitter political bickering over the infiltrator issue, with Banerjee demanding that Modi be "dragged to the jail with a rope around his waist".
Attacking the Trinamool on the Saradha scam, Modi said: "I don't know why Mamata gets an electric shock whenever I talk about Saradha. You are the chief minister, why do you get angry? I can understand those involved in the scam getting angry at me."
Modi also raised the issue of alleged irregularities in the appointment of primary school teachers, and quipped the 'parivartan' (change) that Banerjee had been clamouring to bring in Bengal was visible only in her not her state.
Questioning Banerjee's attitude towards rapists, Modi said the Saradha scam was a raw nerve for her.
Hitting out at the Banerjee regime for the rising crime against women in the state, he asked: "Is Didi's attitude towards the rapists and the crimes appropriate? Does she have the same amount of anger for them as she has for Modi?"
Earlier, in Bihar's Bagaha, Modi said the Congress was "worried and afraid" of the challenge from a tea seller and son of a poor family like him in the ongoing election.
"I am telling people how to develop the country but the Congress and other rivals are working on a single mission to stop Modi. We talk of improving the living condition of farmers and they are more concerned about how to stop Modi from becoming the prime minister," he said while addressing the election rally in Bagaha in Valmiki Nagar parliamentary constituency.