West Bengal Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee on Monday criticised the renaming of Gujarat’s Motera stadium, and said that some day, India might be renamed after Prime Minister Narendra Modi.

On February 24, the newly-refurbished arena in Ahmedabad’s Motera area was renamed as the Narendra Modi Stadium. The announcement was made at the inauguration ceremony ahead of the third Test match between India and England. It was earlier called the Sardar Patel stadium.

The West Bengal chief minister also criticised the use of Modi’s photo on coronavirus vaccine certificates, and said that it seemed like it was “Modi vaccine”. “Coronavirus vaccine [certificates] have his [Modi’s] photo. Is it a Covid-19 vaccine or a Modi vaccine,” Banerjee asked, during a International Women’s Day rally in Kolkata’s Dorina Crossing area. “It seems like Covid-19 vaccines have been turned into Modi vaccines. Stadiums, schools and colleges, vaccines...all of Bengal, India...one day, India’s name might be changed to Modi.”

Banerjee also lashed out at the Bharatiya Janata Party for insinuating that West Bengal was unsafe for women. “They [BJP leaders] will come to Bengal only during elections and spread lies,” she said. “He [Modi] is lecturing us on women’s safety. What is the situation of women in BJP-ruled states? What is the situation in Modi’s favourite Gujarat?” She asserted that the situation was safe for women in West Bengal as they “feel free to roam around at all hours of the night”.

Banerjee also accused Union Home Minister Amit Shah of peddling false information on the security of women in the state. “Remember the Trinamool’s motto – ma-maati-manush (mother, motherland, and humanity),” she said. “Women will fight for Bengal. Women will build Bengal. This is my vow, on the occasion of International Women’s Day.”

The Trinamool Congress rally, which began in the College Square locality in central Kolkata, ended near Dorina crossing. Several senior party leaders, including Chandrima Bhattacharya and Mala Roy, joined the march. At the rally, the chief minister also criticised the rise in fuel prices.

On Sunday, Banerjee led a “padayatra [foot march]” in the state’s Siliguri city to protest against the increase in prices of fuel and cooking gas. Several protestors, most of whom were women, joined the rally holding red-coloured cardboard replicas of Liquified Petroleum Gas cylinders. On the same day, Modi held a rally at Kolkata’s Brigade Parade Ground. He criticised the ruling Trinamool Congress government, suggesting that Banerjee and her cadre had betrayed West Bengal.

The elections to the 294 seats in West Bengal will be held in eight phases from March 27 to April 29. The results will be declared on May 2. The state will see a three-cornered fight between the Trinamool Congress, the BJP and an alliance between Left parties, Congress and the Indian Secular Front. On Friday, Banerjee announced that she will contest the elections from Nandigram, and would vacate her own seat of Bhowanipore in Kolkata.

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  2. More than cricket: Why did Narendra Modi dismiss Sardar Patel at Motera stadium?