In almost all political rallies in West Bengal during the Assembly elections campaign, Prime Minister Narendra Modi used one line to address state Chief Minister and Trinamool Congress (TMC) supremo Mamata Banerjee – ‘Didi O Didi.’
Although the tone of the ‘Didi O Didi’ was called out as ‘mocking’ and an ‘insult to women of the state’ since the very first time it was used in 2021 rallies, by the TMC, PM Modi continued to use the phrase. Most recently, in a rally in Howrah on 6 April, he said:
‘Like a Street-Side Fellow’
“There is something we have in Bengal called ‘rock-er chhele’, which means a street-side fellow who sits on a wall and who basically calls out to every lady walking past, saying “Diddi, ei diddi”. This is the prime minister doing this,” TMC MP Mahua Moitra slammed Modi in an NDTV panel discussion on 2 April, days before the Howrah rally.
“That the prime minister in a rally with lakhs of people (talks) about a sitting chief minister saying (mockingly) ‘Diddi o diddi’. Would you say that? Would he say that about his mother? Would he say that about his sister? Would he say that about his estranged wife? Would he say that about anybody? How is that okay? Is this prime minister going to come and teach us about decorum? This is a prime minister sitting here chortling a sitting chief minister in the cheapest, basest way possible.”Mahua Moitra on NDTV
Later, on 5 April, Shashi Panja, Minister of State for Women and Child Development and Social Welfare, in a press conference, along with leaders June Malia and Ananya Chakraborty, said the prime minister’s comment was an insult to the women of the state.
“Today, we are all perturbed that the prime minister and the home minister of the country are not respecting their positions. The prime minister is speaking in a leering, joking tone much of a hater of women he is. It is quite unfortunate. It is clear from his speeches how the prime minister is using this kind of language.”Shashi Panja, TMC Leader
Responding to the TMC’s allegations, BJP Mahila Morcha state president Agnimitra Paul told The Indian Express that Mamata Banerjee should introspect about the language she uses while speaking about PM Modi and Home Minister Amit Shah.
“How does our honourable CM address PM Modi and Amit Shah ji at poll rallies? How had she addressed JP Nadda,” Paul asked.
Following the criticism, BJP Delhi unit spokesperson Tajinder Pal Singh Bagga has also released a T-shirt with 'Didi ooo Didi' emblazoned on it.
‘Makes My Skin Crawl’: Women on Social Media
Not just TMC leaders, people on social media, too, commented on the prime minister’s controversial way of addressing Banerjee.