Lok Sabha election: Did PM Modi just drop the biggest post-poll alliance hint in ‘non-political’ interview?

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New Delhi | Published: April 24, 2019 11:30:54 AM

Prime Minister's interview to Bollywood actor Akshay Kumar had some references to political opponents that were in sharp contrast to common perception.

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Prime Minister Narendra Modi may just have used the “non-political interaction” with Bollywood actor Akshay Kumar for some smart political messaging. The hour-long informal interaction, which was broadcast a day after voting in the third phase of the ongoing Lok Sabha election, largely saw Modi delve upon personal aspects of his life rather than political.

However, there were some passing references that caught the attention of many. The most prominent among these was of his fiercest critique Mamata Banerjee. In sharp contrast to their comments on each other at political platforms, PM Modi told Akshay Kumar that Mamata Banerjee sends him gifts every year.

“People will be surprised and I should not say this in the election season, but Mamata didi sends me gifts every year. She still sends me one or two kurtas a year,” Modi said during the interaction.

The Prime Minister further revealed that Bangladesh PM Sheikh Hasina also sent him different types of sweets every year. According to the PM, one Mamata got to know about this, she also started sending him sweets once or twice every year.

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Mamata and Modi have been at loggerheads with each other and leave no opportunity to criticise each other. While Mamata has been the biggest opponent of the government when it comes to decisions like demonetisation and the Goods and Services Tax, Modi has often referred to her as “speed breaker didi” and cornered her on issues like the Sharada chit fund scam.

Just yesterday, Modi launched his fiercest attack against the Trinamool Congress chief saying the prime minister’s post is not up for bidding that it could be bought with the money looted from “Narada, Saradha” scams. Last week,
Mamata said that the Prime Minister was suffering from ‘haratanka’ (fear of defeat) and accused BJP of ‘hating people of other religions.’

During his interaction today, PM Modi stressed that he enjoys cordial relations with many Opposition leaders and also made a reference to Congress leader and Leader of Opposition in the Rajya Sabha Ghulam Nabi Azad and said they have met for tea on many occasions. “People are surprised how this RSS man can be friends with Azad,” the PM said.

The Prime Minister’s remarks come at a time when elections to over 300 seats are over. Mamata Banerjee’s TMC, which won 34 of the 42 Lok Sabha seats in West Bengal, snubbed efforts by the Congress to make it part of an umbrella coalition that would unitedly fight the BJP.

Mamata has not opened up on whether she will be willing to work under the leadership of Rahul Gandhi in an alliance if the NDA fails to reach the magic figure of 272 seats to gain a majority. Her party’s support, however, could be crucial in forming government at the Centre after May 23, when results of the Lok Sabha elections will be declared.

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