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Mamata Banerjee's offer to cook food for PM Modi stirs controversy, elicit mixed response

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Mamata Banerjee Narendra Modi

Mamata Banerjee (L); Narendra Modi (R)

Kolkata: West Bengal Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee's offer to "cook food" for Prime Minister Narendra Modi elicited mixed responses from different political parties, with the BJP suspecting a politicized agenda and the CPI(M) suggesting a potential "understanding" between the TMC and the BJP.

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Taking a jibe at Prime Minister Narendra Modi for his recent allegation that RJD leader Tejashwi Yadav last month had fish during a period when some Hindus abstain from having non-vegetarian food, Banerjee on Monday said she was ready to "cook something for him (Modi)" if he wanted though she was not sure whether he would eat what she cooked.

Banerjee, at an election rally here, had made the remarks while taking a dig at the BJP for allegedly interfering with the food habits of the people and had said she would be happy to cook food for Modi but is not sure "whether the PM will be ready to savour my cooked meal." "I have been cooking since my childhood days. People have praised my cooking. But will Modiji accept my food? Will he trust me? I will cook whatever he loves," she had said.

The TMC supremo had said, "I love both vegetarian foods like Dhokla and non-veg foods like macher jhol (fish curry). Different communities, and different sects among Hindus have their own unique rituals and eating habits. Who is BJP to impose a diktat on an individual's dietary habits? It shows the BJP leadership has little idea and concern about the diversity and inclusivity of India and its people." Banerjee's offer to cook for the prime minister, who is a vegetarian, drew sharp reactions from the saffron camp.

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"Mamata Banerjee wants to feed Modi ji with fish and rice cooked by her. Good proposal. But before that, why doesn't she first offer pork chop to her lieutenant Firhad Hakim? It will serve three purposes, secularism will be asserted, it will show charity begins at home and the fritters will also be praised," former BJP state president and ex-Tripura Governor Tathagata Roy posted on X.

BJP leader Sankudeb Panda claimed Banerjee had deliberately invited Modi knowing well that he is a strict vegetarian.

"This is nothing but her ploy to trap the PM. She knows on the one hand the PM will never eat fish or any non-veg item. If she believes everyone should be allowed to eat what he/she loves to eat, then why is she twisting Modiji's comments about one's dietary habits? She is insulting devout Sanatani Hindus" he added.

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Reacting to Banerjee's comments, CPI(M) leader Bikash Bhattacharya said, "Being Dada-Bon (brother and sister), Mamata didi can certainly offer to cook meals for the prime minister, do not know if it is to placate him." Bhattacharya was referring to the jibe - "Didibhai-Modibhai" that the Left and the Bengal Congress unit use to refer to the alleged tacit understanding between the BJP and the TMC.

He said such comments in the backdrop of her public posturing against "Modi's politics and divisive speeches show an apparent contradiction" in what she publicly says and preaches in private.

"Both Mamata Banerjee and Narendra Modi are responsible for bringing the country to such a state. Both are mixing politics with religion," he added.

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The TMC, however, supported the party supremo's remark and said she spoke about the unique religious, and cultural diversity of India and the theme of "unity in diversity".

"She spoke rightly and her comment regarding Modi stems from the fact that as Modi has the right to eat what he likes, every other Indian too has the same right," TMC MP Dola Sen told PTI.

She also criticised the BJP for trying to impose the "Sangh Parivar's narrative" about their agenda to impose a diktat on diets and other customs on people of this country.

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