New Delhi: Prime Minister Narendra Modi has taken a veiled dig at fierce political rival Mamata Banerjee, saying that the Bengal chief minister makes it a point to gift him kurtas every year. 

"Mamata didi saal mein aaj bhi mere liye ek-do kurte bhejti hain (Mamata didi still sends me one or two kurtas every year)," Modi told actor Akshay Kumar in a freewheeling interview. 

The Prime Minister said that the Bengal chief minister personally selects the kurtas for him and also sends him sweets. He said that Mamata is aware of his love for Bengali sweets. 

Modi revealed that Mamata and Bangladeshi Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina competed with each other in gifting sweets to Modi.   

"Bangladesh ke pradhan mantri Sheikh Hasina-ji saal mein 3-4 baar khas taur par Dhaka ke mithai bhejti hai. Mamata didi ko pata chala toh woh bhi saal mein ek-do baar mithai zaroor bhej deti hai (Bangladeshi Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina-ji gifts me sweets specially from Dhaka three-four times every year. Once Mamata came to know of this, she started to send me sweets once or twice every year," Modi said. 

Modi and Mamata have taken potshots at each other from before the 2014 general election. Mamata had called Modi a "donkey" and "danga-babu" (Mr Riot) in 2014 in an obvious reference to allegations of Modi's inaction during the Gujarat riots of 2002. She called the Congress "a party cocooned in fear" and that had she been in power, she would have "sent Modi to jail by tying a rope around his waist". Senior Trinamool leader Derek O' Brien called Modi the "butcher of Gujarat". 

Modi, in turn, had attacked Mamata on her alleged involvement in the Saradha and Narada scams. The relations between Modi and Mamata went down further as the Central Bureau of Investigation (CBI) started to tighten the screws over the Saradha chit fund scam and Bengal minister Madan Mitra and Trinamool leaders Srinjoy Basu and Kunal Ghosh were arrested.   

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Mamata and Modi have continued to spar over the past five years, and their relation dropped to an all-time low when CBI officers, who went to Kolkata to interrogate the then city police commissioner Rajeev Kumar on Saradha, were detained by the Kolkata Police. Mamata sat on a dharna with the police chief and what resulted was a massive standoff.

Modi termed Mamata "speed-breaker didi" at an election rally in Bengal's Asansol on Tuesday. He said Mamata, contesting a handful of seats, is dreaming of becoming the Prime Minister. "Didi, yeh PM pad auction mein nahi hai jo Saradha, Narada ke paiso se kharida jaa sake (the PM's post is not on auction that it can be bought from Saradha, Narada money)," Modi said, adding that one needs the blessings of the people to become the Prime Minister. Mamata hit back by calling Modi "expiry babu".  

But now by revealing that Mamata gifts him clothes and sweets every year, Modi has played a masterstroke with the Lok Sabha elections underway. Modi wisely used the interview with Akshay Kumar to launch a sharp attack on one of his key rivals, while keeping within the precincts of what the interview was billed as — a completely non-political and candid chat. 

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The interview sought to unravel the human side of the Prime Minister and at first glance it would seem he was revealing his non-political side by talking about clothes and sweets, but the political message could not have been missed.   

It also went to show that Mamata lacks a clear and firm stand. On the one hand she talks about putting Modi in jail, and on the other hand, quietly sends him presents. Are Mamata's actions meant to keep the doors of cooperation with a bitter rival open? Is it an effort by the Bengal chief minister to persuade Modi to forgive her 'Saradha sins'? Modi, in this 'freewheeling, informal' chat, has also checkmated Mamata without many realising it.