Samajwadi Party president Akhilesh Yadav today said that Prime Miniser Narendra Modi “should not be banned for 72 hours, but 72 years” for saying that 40 Trinamul legislators were in contact with him.
Yesterday during a rally in Hooghly, Bengal, Modi had said: “Didi, the ground is slipping beneath you. Mark my words, the lotus will bloom in every direction after May 23. Your brothers will desert you…. Even today, Didi, 40 of your MLAs are in touch with me.”
The Election Commission had barred several leaders, including Uttar Pradesh chief minister Yogi Adityanath and Punjab minister Navjot Singh Sidhu, BJP minister Maneka Gandhi and BSP chief Mayawati, from campaigning as the poll watchdog had found speeches by them violating of the model code of conduct. The duration of the punishment stretched from 48 hours to 72 hours. Although Opposition parties have petitioned the Election Commission to act against Modi and BJP chief Amit Shah, so far the poll panel has not taken any action against the two.
Akhilesh said Modi’s speech reflected his “black money mentality”. He tweeted: "Vikas is asking... Did you hear the shameful speech of Pradhanji (PM)? After losing the faith of 125 crore countrymen, he (Modi) is now relying on the unethical assurance of defection allegedly given by the 40 MLAs."
Vikas is a name the BJP had used to emphasise its development plank during the Gujarat Assembly elections last year. In the Vikas video campaign, Gujarati celebrities appeared among young people and extolled the virtues f BJP’s rule in the state. The campaign ended with the actor saying: “I am Vikas.”
Yesterday, after Modi’s speech, Trinamul Congress hit back, charging him with encouraging horse-trading, a term that implies that a legislator’s support can be bought with cash. Trinamul chief national spokesperson Derek O’Brien said the party would lodge a complaint with the Election Commission against Modi. “Nobody will go with you (Modi). Not even one councillor. Are you election campaigning or horse-trading!” he tweeted.
Telugu Desam Party chief N. Chandrababu Naidu also criticised Modi. “Betraying the spirit of democracy, belittling the office of a Prime Minister, and touching the height of absurdity, the PM of India stooped so low and claimed that 40 Trinamul Congress MLAs are in touch with him,” he tweeted.