West Bengal polls 2016: Minister Firhad Hakim shows Kolkata's

ours before the fifth phase of elections, Narada-stung West Bengal minister Firhad Hakim triggered a huge controversy by describing Garden Reach as "mini-Pakistan" to a correspondent of leading Pakistan daily, 'The Dawn'.

Hakim's statement may have an impact not only in Kolkata Port, where he is a candidate, but most of the 52 assembly seats that go to polls on Saturday.

"Please come along and let us take you to mini-Pakistan in Kolkata," the Bengal urban minister is reported telling Dawn reporter Maleeha Hamid Siddiqui as she trailed him on a campaign rally in Garden Reach.

The report, 'Canvassing in 'mini-Pakistan' of Kolkata' by Siddiqui, appeared in the Dawn's web-edition on Friday and has got thousands of 'likes' on Facebook.

The timing of the statement has come in handy to state BJP officials, who've been eyeing polarisation along religious lines beyond the usual Trinamool-Jote equation. BJP was quick to demand Hakim's removal from Trinamool.

Trinamool was wary of commenting on it. Hakim said, "It's a blatant attempt to foment communal tension ahead of the polls. I will not elaborate on this issue because it is beneath my dignity to do so. If PM Modi can visit Pakistan four times, how does it matter if one Firhad Hakim gives a 'mini-Pakistan' statement?"

Trinamool MP Sultan Ahmed was quick to distance himself from the statement. "I do not agree with such views provided he actually said so," he said. Party spokesperson Derek O Brien refused to comment.

Source PTI

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