Kolkata: Rattled and almost cornered in Nandigram, Trinamool Congress supremo Mamata Banerjee on Friday urged Muslim voters to stay united so that her party can manage to win over 200 seats in the West Bengal polls.
"Matha thanda korey kaj korben (Keep your cool when you exercise your franchise)," Mamata told an election rally urging the Muslim voters.
"There is somebody who is coming from Hyderabad (ref to Asaduddin Owaisi). He has taken money from the BJP. There is also a talkative guy from Furfura Sharif....They all are trying to divide the votes of minorities (read Muslims). Even one minority vote should not be split," she said.
"I will need 200 plus to form a strong government....," she said.
Reacting to her remarks, Home Minister Amit Shah said, "We do not do politics of majority and minority. Our politics is based issues of development and performance. This type of appeal would also leave its impact on the other side (the majority Hindu voters)".
BJP spokesman Gaurav Bhatia also said - "It is clear now that Mamata Banerjee has lost Nandigram".
Mamata's remarks on Muslim voters come a day after Nandigram polls which many interpret as a battle, she has perhaps lost. Earlier in the day, Home Minister Amit Shah told an election rally at Kalchini in North Bengal, "I will share with you all a secret, that Mamata Banerjee has lost the poll in Nandigram". "Kal jo nazara sabh ne dekha, woh nazara batati hae ki Didi Nandigram mein haar chuki hae, magar kisi ko batana mat".
Shah also claimed "Out of 60 seats polling in Bengal in first two phases, Lotus symbol is going to shine in more than 50 seats".
Trinamool Congress feels entry of Owaisi's AIMIM and Indian Secular Front (ISF) would divide Muslim votes and ultimately help the BJP.
Congress spokesman Randeep Surjewala also did not approve of Mamata's appeal and said, "Everybody including Mamata Banerjee, no body should appeal for votes on religious lines. It is a secular country". Ironically, on the eve of polling at Nandigram, Mamata Banerjee had written to several opposition leaders at the national level including Congress president Sonia Gandhi for their support in the 'fight against BJP'.
It is argued that Mamata's intent of the letter was to confuse pro-Congress and pro-Left voters just hours before the polling at Nandigram.
However, the body language of BJP's Suvendu Adhikari against Mamata at Nandigram on the polling day was of extreme confidence and he even smiled to journalists' questions and at one point told them that Trinamool camp is unnerved by the 'Jai Shri Ram factor'. "Jai Shri Ram ka dar...," he had said.