Serampore (WB): Trinamool Congress heaped scorn on Narendra Modi, calling him the "Butcher of Gujarat", in an angry retaliation to his no-holds barred attack on West Bengal Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee.
"Butcher of Gujarat air-dropped into Bengal. He has no answers to Bengal's development model. So, making personal attacks," TMC Spokesperson Derek O'Brien said in a series of tweets lambasting the BJP Prime Ministerial candidate after the latter's fresh attack on the party supremo at a rally in Serampore earlier in the day.
"The Butcher of Gujarat could not take care of his own wife. How will he take care of this great nation?," he tweeted.
Firing a salvo at Banerjee for the second time in the past three weeks after adopting a soft approach two months ago, Modi raked up the Saradha scam and said he did not expect this from the Trinamool supremo.
"Saradha is the other name of Saraswati, she is worshipped everywhere, and this Saradha turned into a chit fund? Mamataji, we did not expect this from you," he said. "Personally, I have always respected you. But what have you done, you have broken the dreams of the people of Bengal," Modi said.
"So much lust for the chair? The people of Bengal had so much expectations from you and gave you so much love and you could have done so much for the state, but you are doing what the Left had been doing.
"You are walking on their footsteps only. You have imbibed the bad things of both the Left and the Congress," Modi said. Saradha scam has become a hot poll issue in the Lok Sabha elections in the state.
Sarcastically lauding Banerjee's talent for painting, he said, "your paintings used to be sold for Rs four lakh, 8 lakh or 15 lakh, but what is the reason that one of your paintings sold for Rs 1.80 crore. I respect art.
"But who was the person who bought the painting for Rs 1.80 crore," he said.
"Who all have bought her paintings, for what price they bought it, suddenly how they found out your talent, this the people of Bengal want to know.
"If for this your image has suffered blemishes, then the people of Bengal, who are known to be ardent lovers of art, where art is worshipped, then the people of Bengal will not tolerate if art is sold in the hands of thieves," Modi said.
Reacting to Modi's allegation in connection with the paintings, O'Brien tweeted, "Paintings were sold not for personal gain. Money used for good causes as well as to fund elections. Hence electoral reforms a priority."
In another tweet, he said, "Butcher of Gujarat says Didi pocketed Rs 1.8 crore by selling one painting of hers. He should prove it or face defamation." O"Brien later said Modi was making personal and unsubstantiated attacks at Trinamool.
The war of words between Modi and Banerjee, just ahead of the next phase of polling only hits that there's little chance of the two leaders being able to reconcile following the elections.
Banerjee, at one time a part of the National Democratic Alliance, could have been considered as a potential ally after the elections in the event of the BJP falling short of a majority.
However, the West Bengal Chief Minister has shown no inclination towards the NDA and has instead in the past touted the chances of a 'Federal Front' alliance. Firstpost's R Jagannathan had pointed out in this earlier piece that Banerjee, given her vote base in the minority communities of West Bengal was always unlikely to aid the BJP's cause in any way following the elections.
Modi had also largely stayed away from targeting Banerjee in his campaign so far, but with this escalation of rhetoric between the two leaders it definitely looks like there won't be a end to the war of words any time soon. And for anyone who thought Modi would look to Didi for support after the elections, this may just be proof that he's not even looking at the TMC to aid him.
with inputs from PTI