All for traditional Bengali welcome, but don't expect votes: Mamata tells PM Modi

In an interview to actor Akshay Kumar aired by TV channels, the prime minister had mentioned Mamata Banerjee's gifts to him.
Prime Minister Narendra Modi and West Bengal Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee. File photo: PTI
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Kolkata: In a veiled reference to Prime Minister Narendra Modi's remark that West Bengal Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee sends him sweets and kurtas every year, the TMC leader said Wednesday it is Bengal's culture to welcome guests with sweets and gifts but not a single vote will be given to his party.

Banerjee made the comments at a rally in Serampore in Hooghly district against the backdrop of Modi's interview to actor Akshay Kumar aired by TV channels in which the prime minister mentioned her gifts to him.

"It is Bengal's culture to welcome guests with sweets and tea. We also greet them on special occasions. This is our tradition. We welcome guests with sweets and gifts but not a single vote will be given (to BJP)," the Trinamool Congress (TMC) supremo said without naming Modi.

Secret tie up between TMC and BJP: Congress

West Bengal Congress president Somen Mitra Wednesday claimed that the Trinamool Congress has a secret understanding with the BJP and Prime Minister Narendra Modi's remark that Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee sends him sweets and kurtas every year only re-affirms this.

"There is a secret relationship between Banerjee and Modi. After the Gujarat riots, only Banerjee had sent him roses," Mitra said replying to a question at a meet-the-press programme organised by the Press Club Kolkata.

CPI(M) state secretary Surjya Kanta Mishra also said Modi's comment has revealed the secret ties between the TMC and the BJP.

"The cat is now out of the bag," he said.

Hitting out at Banerjee, the TMC supremo, Mitra made her responsible for the spread of the BJP in West Bengal.

It is because of Trinamool Congress and not due to the weakening of either the Congress or the Left Front parties that the saffron party is gaining ground in the state, he said at a meet-the-press here.

Banerjee, the Congress leader said, has not announced whether the TMC will lend support if there is a coalition headed by the BJP at the Centre after the polls.

Asked to comment on the possibility of the BJP getting the second highest number of seats after the TMC in Bengal, Mitra said "It is due to Mamata's party that BJP is rising in Bengal."

To another question whether the Congress would seek Banerjee's support if it gets the chance to form the government after the poll results, Mitra said it would depend upon the decision of the party's central leadership.

Asked about the Congress's performance in the state, Mitra claimed it would better its result of four seats in 2014.

The state has 42 Lok Sabha seats.

Banerjee has been mocking the Congress, saying it has turned into a 'sign board' party in the state.

He conceded that Congress started its campaign late owing to negotiations for seat sharing with the Left.

Shortage of funds was the reason for the absence of high profile campaigns, he said.

However, the Congress' poll promises for NYAY and Right to Work has received huge response from the voters in West Bengal, he added.  

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