As they ridiculed Mamata Banerjee for her recent visit to temples and her new-found love for 'Chandi path', BJP's star campaigners carpet-bombed West Bengal with rallies. They further provoked retaliatory fire from the TMC supremo who accused Union home minister Amit Shah of hatching a conspiracy against her party.
If the BJP didn't stop interfering with its functioning, the West Bengal Chief Minister also threatened to stage a protest outside the Election Commission.
Yogi Adityanath, Uttar Pradesh Chief Minister and the BJP's Hindutva mascot addressed three election rallies where he sought to corner Banerjee over her hot-off-the-fire soft Hindutva tilt.
"The bare chant of Ram's name left her livid. Now Mamata didi has started visiting temples and is reciting 'Chandi path'," Adityanath told a rally in Balarampur in Purulia district, a wry smile crossing his face.
BJP president J P Nadda, who led a roadshow in Bishnupur and later addressed a public meeting in Kotulpur in the Bankura district, alleged that after practising "appeasement politics" for years, Banerjee was now reciting Sanskrit shlokas to declare her Hindu identity.
Banerjee had won elections in the name of 'Ma, Mati, Manush' (Mother, Land and People) but her partymen engaged in "torturing women, killing BJP workers, dictatorship, extortion and politics of appeasement" in the last decade that she has been in power.
"I am told that Mamata Banerjee is now doing Chandi path. But in the last 10 years, you (Banerjee) have been engaged in minority appeasement. You tried to stop Saraswati Puja in the state and created hurdles in the immersion of idols of Goddess Durga," he said.
Banerjee had recited 'Chandi path', an ode to Goddess Durga, at a public meeting in Nandigram, from where she is contesting, on March 9.
Defence Minister Rajnath Singh, who also addressed three election rallies, assailed Banerjee over the alleged slide in the law and order situation and asserted the "khela" (game) that will be played in West Bengal after the BJP's victory will be that of development and peace.
Leading her party's charge against a battery of BJP generals who have unleashed a campaign blitzkrieg in Bengal, Banerjee came down hard on Home Minister Amit Shah, accusing him of "hatching a conspiracy" to harass TMC leaders ahead of the elections.
Contending that Shah is "frustrated" over the poor turnout at his rallies, Banerjee, who addressed three public meetings in Bankura during the day, accused the BJP of plotting to kill her.
Referring to the last week's "attack" on her in Nandigram, where she is locked in a fierce contest with her protege-turned-adversary Suvendu Adhikari, Banerjee said no injury can prevent her from winning the state elections.
"Amit Shah is frustrated because of the poor turnout at his rallies. Instead of running the country, he is sitting in Kolkata and hatching conspiracies to harass TMC leaders. What do they want? Do they want to kill me? Do they think they can win elections by killing me? If they think so, they are wrong," said a wheelchair-bound Banerjee.
She wondered whether the EC has been reduced to a political tool of the saffron party.
"Is Amit Shah running the EC? He is giving instructions to the EC. What happened to their (poll panel's) independence? My director security (Vivek Sahay) was removed under his instructions," she said.
The TMC supremo alleged that the saffron party was "bribing people and buying votes".
"They are bringing strongmen from outside to loot votes. Please be alert when you see strangers visiting your area during elections," she warned.
Attacking Banerjee over her recent Hindutva slant, Nadda alleged she stopped devotees from offering prayers in temples of West Bengal when the foundation stone for the Ram temple was being laid in Ayodhya.
Referring to the Batla House case verdict, Nadda said the TMC supremo had claimed in 2008 that it was a fake encounter and that she will quit politics if proven wrong.
"What will she say now?" he wondered.
Adityanath, his speeches peppered with sarcastic references to Banerjee's recent temple visits, said, "Congress leader Rahul Gandhi also goes to temples during election time. And once a priest had to tell him to sit in the correct posture."
He assailed his West Bengal counterpart for blocking the implementation of various central government schemes in her state.
About the political killings of BJP workers, he said the perpetrators will be punished when the saffron party comes to power in West Bengal.
"This is the land of (Swami) Vivekananda, Rabindranath (Tagore), Syama Prasad (Mookerjee) which inspired the whole country. It has now become the land of TMC-promoted goons and 'tolabaaj'(extortionists).
"I think the days of Mamata didi's government are numbered. People have made up their mind to vote it out. They have only 45 days left," he asserted.
Joining the campaign blitz, Rajnath Singh once considered Banerjee's friend in the saffron camp, questioned the outsider tag the TMC leader has given to the BJP, reminding her that the Jana Sangh, the BJP's forerunner, was founded by the son of the soil Syama Prasad Mookerjee.
Claiming that the Mamata Banerjee government has not been able to maintain law and order in West Bengal, he said, "Go to Uttar Pradesh or any other state where BJP is in power....there is peace."
"Mamata didi had given the slogan of 'Ma, Mati, Manush' (mother, land, people), but now neither Ma is safe nor the Manush or the Mati of Bengal are secure," he said.
"India has become a powerful country under the Modi government," he asserted.
The defence minister said earlier no one could talk to China looking in the eye but Prime Minister Narendra Modi changed the narrative with sheer courage.
"Our soldiers have given appropriate response and the situation changed," he said, referring to the military disengagement in Ladakh after a tense stand-off between Indian and the Chinese armies.
With PTI Inputs
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