[Read: What Modi said at Kolkata rally]
Lesser leaders bashing Mamata, but top leaders are taking it seriously
Both Rajnath Singh and Narendra Modi contradicted some of the lesser leaders of their party when it came to tackling Mamata Banerjee at the rally in Kolkata. They, instead, attacked the CPI(M) and the Left and the Third Front which the Left parties are stitching together at the moment to counter the respective alliances of the Congress and BJP.
They also raked up the Bengali identity by paying tributes to various Bengali stalwarts of the past, particularly Dr Shyama Prasad Mookerjee, the founder of the Jana Sangh, the predecessor of the BJP and repeatedly stressed the Left rule in West Bengal which saw the state becoming stagnant over a period of three decades.
[Read: Mamata's Plan A is to go alone, is backing Narendra Modi her Plan B?]
Limiting Bengal's politics to Left days a deliberate ploy
But both these top leaders of the BJP were extremely cautious when it came to tackling Mamata Banerjee. It was this political maturity of the duo which was the high point of the day. West Bengal under Banerjee's government has not seen any improvement from the Left days despite the much-needed change that took effect three years ago but apart from asking a casual question: "Have you seen any real poriborton (change) in West Bengal?", neither Modi nor Singh chose to take things far beyond. The choice of limiting Bengal's politics to 2011 was a deliberate ploy to serve a bigger purpose.
Modi might have slammed it, but Third Front made his task easy
The shaping up of the Third Front comprising the Left, Mamata's arch-rivals, also made Modi's task easier. He started his speech with strong words against the Third Front to give Mamata a message that both the BJP and TMC are on the same side of the fence. The Congress did not find much space in his speech this time, unlike most or all of his previous rallies, because Modi knows that Mamata is as anti-Congress as he is and there is a greater possibility of the Trinamool chief tilting in favour of a non-Congress and non-BJP front instead of the UPA, which she had left in 2012.
Modi capitalised on Congress factor through some other way
However, Modi chose to capitalise on the Congress factor through other means. Instead of the routine issues like corruption or foreign policy, he raised the issue of Pranab Mukherjee, the current President of India and a former Congressman. He appealed to the Bengali identity by saying that the Gandhi family of the Congress stopped Mukherjee from becoming the prime minister on two occasions to give way to dynasty politics.
The first one was in 1984 when Rajiv Gandhi was made the prime minister after the country after his mother Indira Gandhi's assassination. Again in 2004, Sonia Gandhi made Manmohan Singh the PM while many had thought Pranab Mukherjee should have been chosen for the top job.
Why are BJP's lesser leaders attacking Mamata when senior ones are wooing her?
Modi also made an appeal to Indianness by raking up the issue of Bangladeshi immigration. "They (Bengladeshis) are getting facilities which our people should have received," he said, giving enough boost to the common citizens of these parts who are aggrieved with the relentless entry of people from across the border.
Modi meant he prefers peaceful co-existence with Mamata (good Centre-state relations)
But the BJP's PM candidate perhaps played his best shot when he asked the people to help win his party all 42 Lok Sabha seats from the state and thereafter judge both Mamata's government in Bengal and the NDA government's at the Centre by their action.
The inner message was clear: Mamata Banerjee can not do much for her state unless the Centre backs her and that if the NDA comes to power, it would not deprive West Bengal and let Banerjee's governance fail because of economic non-performance. A very well though-out appeal by Modi there to the electorate of West Bengal. Even Rajnath Singh gave a hint about this before when he said that the Centre should give bail-out package to West Bengal to help it overcome its economic woes.
Both Modi and Mamata will need each other
Both Modi and Mamata will need each other after the polls. For the former, convincing a strong Mamata (with 23-28 seats) will make the Mission 272 look easier while for the latter, the NDA could be the only option after the polls to remain relevant in national politics. The Left's hijacking the Third Front has reduced her options further. Modi although slammed the Left at Kolkata rally on Wednesday, but somewhere deep down, he would be thanking it for giving him a welcome opportunity to woo Mamata Banerjee.