PM Modi vs Mamata Banerjee: Bengal's Cooch Behar braces for mega showdown today

Prime Minister Narendra Modi and West Bengal Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee are set to hold consecutive Lok Sabha campaign rallies in Cooch Behar, North Bengal, on April 4.

They are set to address voters in the same constituency for the first time, a region that has witnessed substantial electoral advancements for the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) since the 2019 elections.

The constituencies of Cooch Behar, Alipurduar, and Jalpaiguri in North Bengal are all going to the polls on April 19, marking the first phase of voting in the state. These seats saw a shift in 2019 when the BJP won all three from the ruling TMC.

Modi will hold one rally in Cooch Behar at 3:30 pm, while Banerjee will address two, as announced by their respective parties.

In the previous elections, the BJP secured 18 out of Bengal's 42 Lok Sabha seats, with seven out of eight seats in North Bengal. The party aims to increase its tally to at least 25 seats this year. Although the BJP won only 77 out of Bengal's 294 assembly seats in the 2021 polls, it still managed to secure 30 out of 54 seats in the eight districts of North Bengal.

Mamata Banerjee has been touring the North Bengal districts and meeting voters since Sunday, particularly after severe storms hit parts of the region, causing casualties.

Responding to the Centre's decision to halt funds for housing projects under the Pradhan Mantri Awas Yojana (PMAY), Mamata's nephew and TMC national general secretary, Abhishek Banerjee, demanded transparency. He stated, "I expect him (Modi) to furnish a white paper on the amount paid to Bengal under PMAY after the BJP lost the assembly polls in 2021."

In response, Bengal BJP’s chief spokesperson, Samik Bhattacharya, defended the decision, citing corruption during TMC's regime.

He said, "The Centre stopped the funds because it is taxpayers’ money. Corruption during TMC’s regime has been exposed by the scams federal agencies are probing under court orders." The political landscape in West Bengal is heating up as both parties intensify their campaigns ahead of the crucial elections.

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