Mamata derides Shah's claim of winning 26 out of 30 seats in 1st phase in WB

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(Adding detail of rally at Nandigram) Chandipur/Nandigram (WB), Mar 28 (PTI) Deriding Union Home Minister Amit Shah's assertion that the BJP will win 26 of the 30 seats which went to vote in the first phase of West Bengal assembly polls, Trinamool Congress supremo Mamata Banerjee on Sunday asked did he 'hacked the EVMs or looted votes' that he was making such a claim.

Without naming Shah, who made the assertion at a BJP press conference in New Delhi earlier in the day, Banerjee questioned how such a claim could be made just a day after the elections were held.

The counting of votes for all eight phases of the election is slated to be taken up on May 2.

Though she refused to predict the number of seats the TMC will win in the first phase, but said on the basis of a high 84 per cent voting 'I can surmise people have voted for us.' Addressing rallies first at Chandipur and the next at Nandigram,she said the TMC will do an 'April Fool' on the saffron party on April 1.

The state goes to second phase of elections on April 1, including the most watched constituency Nandigram, from where the chief minister's former close aide turned bete noire Suvendu Adhikari is contesting against her as a BJP candidate.

'A leader today said that the BJP will win 26 of 30 seats, why did you not say all 30, did you leave the rest for Congress and CPI(M)?' Banerjee quipped, addressing a rally at Chandipur constituency, adjacent to Nandigram.

Addressing another rally at Reyapara in Nandigram, she asked,'Can a Home Minister say that the BJP will win 26 out of 30 seats, how does he know? 'Did he enter into the machine or did he loot the votes in the machine or hacked it or counted (the votes in) it?' Banerjee claimed after EVMs are opened for counting, the TMC will emerge victorious while all others will bite the dust.

'You are the Home Minister of the country. You are giving an information misusing power and confusing the people,'she said.

She said, 'You (BJP) have already lost the match and that is why you have to boost your cadres by saying such things.' She said that it seems as if the elections are being held after invoking Article 356 of the Constitution and that the Home Minister is conducting everything.

Asking the TMC workers to guard the premises where the EVM machines would be kept after polling,she said she would reward those doing the work, while warning them against trusting even the local police.

Banerjee claimed people have voted for the TMC in the seats where the party was trailing in the 2019 Lok Sabha elections.

The chief minister, who has been branding Adhikari family, without naming them as 'traitors' after party heavyweights Suvendu, his father Sisir and another brother Soumendu left the party to join the saffron party fold,said 'it is my fault to have showered so much love on them.' She claimed that she did not understand that they would turn out to be 'venomous snakes'.

Likening herself to 'andha (blind) Dhritarashtra' of the epic Mahabharata, she said that blind love for some people had made her naive.

Claiming that the Adhikari family was not with the TMC from the beginning, Banerjee even accused them of having worked against the Nandigram agitation.

'Without knowledge of the father-son duo, police action could not have happened,' she said.

At least 14 agitators were killed in police firing at Nandigram on March 14,2007, following which the Calcutta High Court had ordered a CBI investigation into it.

Maintaining that she was contesting from Nandigram to pay respect to its people for their contribution in safeguarding agricultural land, the TMC supremo said 'I had decided to contest from here after asking for your permission... Do you think I have a dearth of seats to contest from? ' She claimed that she could have fought from anywhere in the state, including from Bhawanipur in Kolkata, which she represented.

'Those who are underestimating me and terming me as an outsider, I want to tell them that I am a daughter of the soil,' she said.

'My decision to fight from Nandigram was not with the intention to defeat some particular person,' she said, Claiming that the Adhikaris were not at the forefront of the Nandigram agitation, she said 'they may have participated in some rallies.' Banerjee claimed that the Adhikaris, whether Suvendu or father Sisir Adhikari, were not there during the agitation after the police action.

Claiming that she had saved Nandigram from the CPI(M) and its leader Lakshman Seth,Banerjee said she is indebted to the people of the area.

Holding that Modi government is hostile towards farmers, she said that Medha Patkar and kisan leaders came to Nandigram to ask the people to not vote for the BJP.

Speaking at a rally at Birulia Bazar, where she was injured on March 10, Banerjee said on the fateful day she was greeting people standing on the footboard of her stationary vehicle.

She claimed as false propaganda that the vehicle's door hit an iron pillar as it was moving, causing her injury.

'It was because four-five people gave a push. I did not realise that the injury was bad, but then I found that my leg got swollen and was bleeding,' Banerjee who is moving around in a wheelchair said.

She said she will stay in Nandigram till elections on April 1 and addressed at least 20 meetings in these five days.

Banerjee said she will go to Singhu border in the outskirts of the national capital after winning from Nandigram with the message that people of the constituency have supported farmers movement.

Banerjee promised to set up a CMO office in Nandigram to look after the needs of the people of the constituency.

Taking an apparent dig at AIMIM leader Asaduddin Owaisi, she said a leader from Hyderabad has come to divide the minority votes, Banerjee questioned where he was during riots in Delhi or Gujarat. PTI AMR SNS SNS