Speaking to Republic Media Network's Executive Editor Abhishek Kapoor in his final and most explosive interview of the 2019 Lok Sabha election campaign trail - 49 days after his first election campaign interview with Republic's Editor-in-Chief Arnab Goswami - Prime Minister Narendra Modi spoke about a range of topics that made headlines in this election season including the most recent - the poll violence and ensuing Election Commission action in West Bengal.
Making a strong statement against the Mamata Banerjee-led West Bengal government, Prime Minister Modi said that the fight in West Bengal is Mamata versus the people of the state:
In this entire election, I have noticed that Mamata ji's anger is not directed towards the BJP or Modi, it is directed towards people of Bengal. She's taking out her anger on the people of Bengal. People of Bengal are being hit, people of Bengal are being hanged, trouble is being created for the people of Bengal. In Bengal, there's a fight between the people of the state and Trinamool, between the people of the state and the administration and between the people of Bengal and Trinamool government.
('Is poore chunaav mein maine dekha hai Mamata ji ka gussa BJP par nahi hai, Modi par nahi hai, Bengal ki janta ke upar hai. Mar rahi hai Bengal ke janta ko, fansi di jaa rahi hai Bengal ki janta ko, pareshaniya paida ki jaa rahi hai Bengal ki janta ke liye, toh ek prakar se Bengal mein janta aur Trinamool party, janta aur prasashan, janta aur Mamata government inke beech ladai chal raha hai.)
Speaking on West Bengal Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee and the poll-violence in the state in all the six phases of the elections, Prime Minister Modi added:
"In a democracy Mamata Banerjee has all the right to raise her voice against Narendra Modi and it is my responsibility to protect her right. In a democracy when someone opposes Modi, I consider it a good thing. I don't think its wrong. The question is not about this election, in the last one year, panchayat elections were also held there. Send neutral teams there and get a report on how panchayat elections were conducted. People had to go to court to file nomination, the court had to intervene and say that allow these people to file their nominations. They filed nominations. Elections happened, Mamata ji's party lost. Those who won, their homes were burnt down. Those who won, their family members were killed. During panchayat elections polling booths were being set on fire, candidates were being killed, their relatives were being killed. In the same period panchayat elections were also held in Jammu & Kashmir, everything was peaceful, nothing happened in a single polling booth."
("Loktantra mein Mamata ji ko Modi ke khilaf awaaz uthane ka pura adhikar hai. Unke adhikar ki raksha karna ye meri jimmedari hai. Loktantra me koi Modi ka virodh kare usko mai accha maanta hoon. Usme koi burai nahi hai. Sawal ye chunav ka nahi hai, ek sal ke andar andar vahan panchayat chunaav hue, aapki neutral team bhej ke panchayato ke chunav kaise hue the uska report nikaliye. Logo ko namankan ke liye court me jana para, court ko intervention karna para, Mamata ji ki party ki parajay hui, jo log jeet gaye unke ghar jalaa diye. Panchayat ka matdan ho raha hai, polling booth jalaa diye, umeedwaron ko maara jaa raha tha, umeedwaro ke rishtedaron ko maara jaa raha tha, Jammu-Kashmir me usi dauran panchayat chunav hua, shantipurna ek polling booth me koi garbadi nahi.")
PM Modi added:
"And in Bengal, the state government was responsible for carrying out panchayat elections, this was the condition there. The second thing - the Election Commission is responsible for conducting elections, the state Election Commission also has similar responsibility like that of the central Election Commission. First is the state government, the central government comes after that. And that is why whatever transpired in Bengal under the state Election Commission should come under probe. Media can do it, the Election Commission can do it. It is their job. But I am of the view there should be a probe. Before elections were announced BJP had the right to have its say. BJP had both the right and responsibility to go amongst the people. The choppers of our Chief Ministers were not allowed to land. When we had public meetings, police would torture those who make pandals. They wouldn't allow pandal-makers to put up pandals. We wouldn't get pandals or chairs or mics. We faced this torture even before elections were announced. But when elections were announced and when EC is making all efforts to carry out free and fair polls, they unleashed a wave of violence. This is a threat to democracy. The question is not about the central government or state government."
(Doosri baat - chunaav ki jimmedari Election Commission ki hoti hai, rajya ke Election Commission ki hoti hai, kendra ke Election Commission ki hoti hai, rajya sarkar aur kendra sarkar baad me aati hai, aur isliye vahan jo bhi musibatein aayi hain aur Election Commisison ne jo vyabhar kiya hai vo ek janch ka vishay hai. Media kare, Election Commission kare, mera mat hai ki jaanch ka vishay hai. Jahan tak chunav ghoshit hone se pehle BJP ko haq tha apni bat batane ka, jimmedari bhi thi adhikar bhi tha, humare mukhyamantriyo ke helicopter land nahi karne diye, humari jansabha hoti thi to pandal dene walo ko Police atyachar karti thi, ye chunav ghoshit hone se pehle karte the, chunav ghoshit hone ke bad, jab EC kosish kar raha tha ki chunav dhang se ho, to hinsa ka dar badha dia gaya, toh ye loktantra ke liye khatarnak hai.)
West Bengal had witnessed acrimony long before all six election campaign phases witnessed some or the other form of violence culminating in the violent clashes that were witnessed at Amit Shah's roadshow on Tuesday evening in Kolkata. The following day, the Election Commission curtailed election campaigning in the state 24 hours ahead of schedule and also effectively sacked two top state government officers. Consequent to this, West Bengal Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee had hit out at the poll body accusing it of acting at the behest of PM Modi and issued a 'Modi hatao' call as the war of words escalated further.