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Mamata to take Modi head-on

Mamata to take Modi head-on

KOLKATA: Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee, who has lately been daring Prime Minister Narendra Modi to a US Presidential-style debate, in full view of television cameras, has decided to go for a near head-on collision.

Banerjee has brought forward her campaign schedule for Wednesday so that she can respond to PM Modi as it will be on the same day that he launches his second blitzkrieg of Bengal.

PM Modi will hold a rally in north Bengal's Siliguri Wednesday around afternoon. He will then fly to Kolkata and hold a mega rally at Brigade Parade Ground late afternoon. The venue for the Prime Minister's Kolkata rally is the same where Banerjee's grand alliance or mahagathbandhan rally was held on January 19.

As per her earlier schedule, Banerjee was supposed to launch her election campaign from Cooch Behar in north Bengal on Thursday, April 4. But she has decided to head to the north Wednesday itself.

She will reach her destination at around 4:00 pm. By then, PM Modi is likely to have finished his speeches in Siliguri and Kolkata and then, Banerjee is expected to respond to PM Modi's attacks.

Two key seats in north Bengal - Cooch Behar and Alipurduar - will vote in the first phase, on April 11.

The West Bengal Chief Minister has been raising the issue of wall-to-wall media coverage of PM Modi's campaign and has said every political party should be represented equally on television.

There has been no response from the BJP so far to Mamata's challenge to the Prime Minister for a debate.

When PM Modi came to Bengal in February as part of the BJP's first assault on the Trinamool citadel, there was no counter-rally by Banerjee.

Political circles are agog that a war of words is on the cards with Mamata deciding to hold her public rally on the same day the Prime Minister will commence his campaign in the state.

Coochbehar and Alipurduars will go to polls in the first phase of the Lok Sabha elections on April 11.

Elections for the three seats of Darjeeling, Jalpaiguri and Raiganj in North Bengal will be held in the second phase on April 18.

Siliguri is within the Darjeeling constituency, which is one of the two seats BJP won in the 2014 elections.

It has, however, fielded greenhorn Raju Bista in place of its sitting MP S S Ahluwalia from the seat.

The TMC supremo had said on Sunday that she would go to Coochbehar in North Bengal on April 4 and then to Assam to address rallies there the next day and would be back to Bengal again for addressing election rallies.

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