West Bengal Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee on Friday went all guns blazing at the Centre’s ruling BJP, accusing it of indulging in “massive corruption” and failure on all fronts, and pledging to remove it from power in the next general elections. She also indicated her party’s willingness to side with all opposition forces ready to take it on.
Addressing the annual Martyr’s Day Trinamool Congress rally, Banerjee, also the Trinamool supremo, spent almost the entire speech attacking the BJP, concluding by leading a chorus of party leaders and supporters shouting the slogan “BJP, Bharat chorho” (BJP, Quit India).
She spent only a few words in attacking the Left Front, her old adversary in the state, and kept mum on her other opponent in West Bengal – the Congress.
Banerjee said contrary to its high hopes, the next general elections in 2019 would not be a cakewalk for the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP).
“Remember Modi Babu (Prime Minister Narendra Modi), you will not get even 30 per cent of the votes. That’s what the calculation says. The people who are thinking that the 2019 election is a cake walk, and victory is in their pocket, do not know their pockets well,” she said during her long speech.
Banerjee described the performance of losing presidential candidate Meira Kumar – backed by 18 opposition parties – as “good”, and claimed that the 35 per cent votes she got would “increase in our favour” during the coming vice presidential election when two more parties – Janata Dal-United and Biju Janata Dal – are slated to join the opposition fold.
She also said the opposition unity would be further expanded in the near future, and the parties would take on the BJP in their respective areas of influence in the 2019 polls, which she felt, could be advanced to 2018.
She said her party would stand beside all leaders willing to join the fight against the BJP. She named Congress President Sonia Gandhi, Aam Aadmi Party supremo Arvind Kejriwal, RJD head Lalu Prasad, Biju Janata Dal’s Naveen Patnaik and National Conference leader Omar Abdullah in this regard.
Banerjee announced that the Trinamool would launch a three week-long movement with the slogan “BJP quit India” from August 9-30, in which all her ministers, public representatives and party block presidents would take part. Banerjee herself would be present at the start and conclusion of the programme.
She accused the BJP of indulging in massive corruption in various states, and claimed the central agencies were completely silent on the scandals.
She referred to graft cases in Rajasthan, the Vyapam scam in Madhya Pradesh, and the Gujarat Petroleum scandal, and asked: “Where are the CBI and other central agencies?”
She also threatened to slap defamation cases worth thousands of crores if the probe into the Saradha and Narada cases by the CBI and other central agencies in her state did not proceed in a genuine way.
The Trinamool chief said the BJP was trying to silence her party through the Saradha and Narada probes as “it was the most vocal in its protests”.
She then threw a challenge, without naming Modi and referred to him as “Barda” (elder brother).
“We say, go ahead with Saradha and Narada, in 2019 Barda will have to go. The bardas will have to bow out from power in the country. It’s a challenge,” she said.
Banerjee also charged the BJP with bringing the nation’s growth across sectors to a halt and derailing the economy by implementing policies like demonetisation and Goods and Services Tax.
She also attacked the BJP’s foreign policy, saying the relations with all neighbouring countries had deteriorated.
Banerjee alleged that a “more than Emergency” situation now prevailed in the country, with Dalits, minorities and even Hindus not sure about protection of their rights.
Excepting in Bengal, nobody was safe in even Delhi, she said.
“Even (Nobel Laureate economist) Amartya Sen is not safe.”
She claimed the BJP and Left were colluding against her.
“The Left is also secretly voting for the BJP sometimes,” she said referring to the five votes from the state that went in favour of NDA’s candidate Ram Nath Kovind in the presidential election.
However, state BJP president Dilip Ghosh described Banerjee’s allegations as “laughable”, and accused her administration of resorting to vengeful politics by registering false cases against BJP leaders.
“She had previously threatened that her administration would take counter actions if her party leaders are arrested and as per her wish the police have started false cases against some of our activists and leaders,” Ghosh said.
State CPI-M secretary Surjya Kanta Mishra said whatever allegations Banerjee was levelling against the BJP-led central dispensation about “corruption, atrocities and harassment” were “equally applicable” to her government.