Modi takes on Congress, Third Front

'Has there been any change in Bengal after Left exit?'

Modi takes on Congress, Third Front

An unprecedented gathering and a trademark rousing speech marked BJP leader Narendra Modi’s debut at Brigade Parade Ground in central Kolkata on Wednesday. 

While the BJP’s prime ministerial candidate and other leaders meted out hot and cold treatment to West Bengal Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee, there were no doubts that the Congress and the Third Front were the real targets. Trinamool might still be welcome into the National Democratic Alliance (NDA) fold.

If from the start the guns were trained on Congress and constituents of the newly-formed Third Front, Modi raised a finger at Trinamool Congress chief Mamata, questioning her abilities to bring in actual change. “You (people) drove away the Left and brought in change. But has there been real change here? Ask yourselves,” he told the crowd. Modi, however, did not put her completely in the bad books and later said, “Mamata alone cannot develop Bengal, she needs the Centre’s help.”

No sooner was Modi’s chopper sighted, which ferried him from the city airport, than the crowd broke into rapturous applause that continued till he reached the dais. There was no doubt who the main draw was despite the presence of new entrants like music director Bappi Lahiri, magician P C Sorcar Junior and a couple of veteran stars from Bengali cinema.

Confident of victory in the 2014 general elections, Modi said: “This election will be different from all others. Pundits are unable to predict what will happen because they’re failing to understand the public pulse. Common people are fighting this election and they have set the agenda, not parties. The nation wants change, it wants development, jobs, security, law and order and prosperity.”

What started with a greeting in Bengali ended with a recitation of “Where the mind is without fear” by Rabindranath Tagore, spiced with references to Bengal’s greatness in the form of its sons like Swami Vivekananda, Netaji Subhas Chandra Bose, Bankim Chandra Chatterjee and Shyamaprasad Mookerjee. Modi said he wanted Bengal to send him all 42 seats so he can address the issues which “Mamata has failed to do”.

He pointed out that Bengal has a three-pronged advantage if it votes for BJP. “Mamata will develop the state and I will do the same from the Centre. Above us all is President Pranab Mukherjee, who is also from Bengal,” he said. 

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