Bengal Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee, the latest opposition leader to liken Prime Minister Narendra Modi to Duryodhan, the main villain of the epic Mahabharat, today once again drew a parallel between the two. She had also compared BJP chief Amit Shah to Dushshasan, the younger brother of Duryodhan.
Today, at a rally in South 24 Parganas district’s Basanti, around 110 km from state capital Kolkata, the Trinamool Congress chief went a step further, saying even “Duryodhan and Dushasan didn’t lie as much as Modi has”.
The 42 Lok Sabha seats in Bengal have generated a huge clash between Ms Banerjee’s Trinamool Congress and the BJP, which has been set a target of 23 seats by party chief Amit Shah. Over the last weeks, PM Modi and Mr Shah, along with the party’s other star campaigner Yogi Adityanath, have held around a dozen rallies in the state, going toe-to-toe with the chief minister.
Ms Banerjee, who has been at loggerheads with the centre over various issues, including the investigation into the two Ponzi scams, has also accused the Prime Minister of lowering the level of political discourse. “I don’t speak his language. He must know that he is the PM and when he is talking, people are listening. Political speech is also about culture. I have been called a goon and whatnot. But I don’t talk like that,” she had told NDTV in an interview last week.
Today she accused the Prime Minister of being “busy with his own publicity” and said she would “ensure he vacates Delhi’s chair”.
The 2019 election has seen increasing references to Hindu epics, particularly by opposition parties to target PM Modi and the BJP government. References to Ramayana have also featured this election season.
In February, Mamata Banerjee was compared mythical demons “Taadaka” and “Surasa” from the epic Ramayana by BJP leaders from UP and Haryana. These attacks came during Ms Banerjee’s mega clash with the Centre over a CBI team trying to question the Kolkata police chief over two Ponzi scams.
The analogy to the evil brothers — Duryodhan and Dushasan — was first used by former Union Minister Yashwant Sinha last October. “In Mahabharata, there are two famous characters — Duryodhan and Dushsan. The Kauravas were 100 brothers. Out of them only two became famous, Duryodhan and Dushasan.” Communist Party of India-Marxist leader Sitaram Yechury had made similar remark in April, calling the national polls a battle between Kauravas and Pandavas, the five righteous brothers.
More recently, Congress leader Priyanka Gandhi had slammed PM Modi for his comments against her father and former prime minister Rajiv Gandhi. She had said that “the same kind of arrogance caused the downfall of Duryodhan“.
“They insult my family when they don’t get any other issue. This country has never forgiven arrogance. Mahabharat is proof of this. When Lord Krishna went to him and put the reality in front of him and tried to talk to him, he tried to capture Lord Krishna too,” she had said.
In the first controversial reference to the Hindu epics, PM Modi took a swipe at Congress leader Renuka Chowdhury in parliament last year where he joked that the Congress leader’s laughter reminded him of the 1980s’ television series “Ramayana”, insinuating at the “evil laugh” of Surpanakha, the sister of demon king Ravana.
PM Modi, last month, claimed that 40 legislators of Trinamool Congress were in touch with him and would switch sides as soon as the national election results are declared on May 23. In response, Ms Banerjee dared him to “find one”. PM Modi has accused the Bengal government of blatant corruption and has derided her with names like “speed breaker Didi”, saying she is the “speed breaker” in the path of development.
Get the latest election news, live updates and election schedule for Lok Sabha Elections 2019 on ndtv.com/elections. Like us on Facebook or follow us on Twitter and Instagram for updates from each of the 543 parliamentary seats for the 2019 Indian general elections. Election results will be out on May 23.