After Rahul Gandhi, Bengal chief minister Mamata Banerjee on Sunday challenged Prime Minister Narendra Modi to a debate in the US Presidential style – complete with television cameras. She even had tips on who should host it, and the process they should follow. The BJP, which had ignored Rahul Gandhi’s challenges so far, is yet to respond.
“Modi-ji you have never done a press conference. Why don’t you come for a debate instead? If they can do it abroad, why don’t we do one here?” she said at a rally in Andhra Pradesh, where she was campaigning for Chief Minister Chandrababu Naidu.
Outlining the modality, she said she was ready to represent the opposition at the debate. “I am ready to fight with you. Politically, I will ask the question, you will reply and you can ask me questions, I will reply”.
Taking a dig at the Prime Minister, who was recently seen using teleprompters, she added, “We will not come with any papers or teleprompters. It will not be a prepared speech. It will be a direct interaction with the people. We’ll see, kiske baju mein kitna dum hai (who has more guts)”.
Further attacking PM Modi and BJP, Mamata said that it was “unfortunate” that Narendra Modi became the Prime Minister as he gave the saffron brigade a free hand at looting the public money. She listed a number of issues including terrorist attacks, unemployment and farmers to claim that BJP-led NDA didn’t work for the country in their tenure.
Ms Banerjee and Delhi Chief Minister Arvind Kejriwal, both staunch critics of PM Modi, were campaigning for Mr Naidu in Vishakhapatnam. With Mr Naidu being one of the key advocates of a united opposition, various opposition leaders have gone to Andhra Pradesh to campaign for him.
Mr Gandhi was in Andhra Pradesh as well yesterday, campaigning for the Congress, which is contesting the state’s 26 Lok Sabha seats and 175 assembly seats, on which elections will be held simultaneously.
Over the last couple of years, Mr Gandhi has issued multiple challenges to PM Modi for a public debate, mostly on the deal for 36 Rafale fighter jets. The last such challenge was in February, when the Congress chief had sought five minutes of the Prime Minister’s time. At the time, he had called the Prime Minister “a coward”.
“I challenge the BJP, let Narendra Modi ji debate with me on stage. He is scared. He is a coward (darpok). I know PM Modi’s character after fighting him for 5 years… When someone stands up to him, he runs away,” Mr Gandhi had said.
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