Prime Minister Narendra Modi took stage at a BJP rally in West Bengal's Haldia on 7 February 2021. Modi began his speech by speaking on the flash flood in Uttarakhand, saying that he prayed for the well-being of the people in the state.
The Prime Minister also talked about an "international conspiracy" to malign India and hit out Banerjee for getting irked by ‘Jai Shri Ram’ chants.
"An international conspiracy is being hatched to malign India’s image. It's a well thought-out conspiracy against our country. Why did Mamta Banerjee not say anything against these conspirators? She only gets irritated when people shout slogans like Bharat Mata Ki Jai and Jai Shri Ram", he said.
"I'm in constant touch with the Uttarakhand government and local authorities at Joshimath area. I am monitoring the situation. The government is arranging for medical help and rescue. Uttarakhand barely has any family which doesn't have someone in the Army. They are strong people", said the Prime Minister at the beginning of his speech.
"Few days back, there was also heavy snowfall in Uttarakhand. I pray for the people of Uttarakhand, Bengal prays for the people of Uttarakhand, the whole country is praying for the people of Uttarakhand", he added.
PM Modi also said West Bengal would soon show Mamata the “Ram” card.
"Bengal loves football. So let me speak in that language. Trinamool has made many fouls, one after the other. The foul of misgovernance, attacks on opposition leaders, theft of money... The people of Bengal are watching. Bengal will soon show Trinamool the Ram card," he said, according to NDTV.
The Prime Minister further said that Bengal was “in its present condition” because of its politics.
"First there was Congress rule, which was dominated by corruption. Then the Left's rule, which lasted for a long time, put a brake on development. In 2011, all eyes were on Mamata. She promised 'poriborton', but you got only brutality", he said, attacking the opposition parties in the state.
"What Bengal got was not poriborton but the new birth of the Left", he added.
After his address at the political rally, the PM inaugurated oil, gas, petroleum and infrastructure projects worth 4,700 crore in Haldia.
West Bengal Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee will stay away from this second event that has been organised by the Central government.
Banerjee was invited to share the stage with the Prime Minister at the event. Seven minutes had also been allotted for a speech by her.
Banerjee was also supposed to be joined on stage by Trinamool Congress MP Dibyendu Adhikari, Governor Jagdeep Dhankhar and Union Minister Dharmendra Pradhan.
Dibyendu Adhikari is the brother of Suvendu Adhikari, former Trinamool Minister and strongman, who defected to the BJP in December 2020, after a prolonged fall out with the TMC leadership. Dibyendu is reportedly in talks with the BJP and may also jump ship soon, along with his father, another tall TMC leader, Sisir Adhikari. Suvendu's other brother, Soumendu, joined the BJP with 14 Trinamool councillors, in January. East Midnapore, where the PM's programme is taking place, is also Adhikari's stronghold.
Sources say that Banerjee has responded to an invitation by the PMO with her decision to stay away from the event citing unavailability at the time.
About two weeks ago, on 23 January, the Prime Minister and the Chief Minister had shared a stage at Kolkata's Victoria Memorial at a Union government-organised event to mark the 125th birth anniversary of Netaji Subhash Chandra Bose.
At the event, Banerjee, who was scheduled to speak, refused to deliver a speech ‘in protest’ of Jai Shri Ram slogans raised by the audience right before she took the dias.
“It is unbecoming to invite someone and insult them,” Banerjee had said.
Prime Minister Modi's visit to Bengal also comes at a time when his party, the BJP, has started its high-pitched campaign for the state elections scheduled in April-May 2021.
(With inputs from NDTV.)