West Bengal CM Mamata Banerjee took stage with her Delhi counterpart Arvind Kejriwal and warned the Modi government to roll back the demonetisation exercise in three days. But with such a roll-back unlikely, sources in the Trinamool Congress maintained that Banerjee was already planning a “Bharat Yatra” (all India movement) to mobilize support against the Modi government which would begin on November 24.
Sources in the party maintained that Banerjee was likely to travel to Srinagar in Kashmir, where she was likely to share stage with Omar Abdullah of the National Conference and to Gujarat, before which Banerjee has been in conversation with Hardik Patel, the convener of the Patidar Anamat Andolan Samiti. Banerjee is also likely to participate in a rally in Bihar, said party sources.
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Meanwhile Banerjee has cancelled her previously planned trip to Bangkok – where she was scheduled to speak at the Global Asian Conference on November 27. The Bengal government has been wanting to showcase the products of Biswa Bangla – art, crafts and handloom from the state – outside the country and the first step towards that was expected to be taken in Bangkok.
“Banerjee is looking to galvanize support across the country ahead of 2019, along the lines of the JP movement against Indira Gandhi. Mamata Banerjee has been speaking out against the Modi government’s slow destruction of the federal structure of the country since 2014. But now the situation has reached such devastating proportions for the poor in India that protest is necessary,” said a senior TMC leader.
Senior party leaders explained that her attempt was to galvanize dissident voices against the Modi government in different states, on the demonetisation issue in a continuation of her efforts to forge together a federal front to combat Modi ahead of the 2019 Lok Sabha polls. At the rally in Delhi, Banerjee had said Modi that should not run the country through “dictatorship”, calling the protest a fight to save the country.
Previously Mamata Banerjee on Wednesday led a rainbow delegation comprising Trinamool Congress, Aam Aadmi Party, BJP ally Shiv Sena, Patidar Anamat Andolan Samiti (of Hardik Patel) and National Conference to Rashtrapati Bhawan to protest against the decision to withdraw Rs 500 and Rs 1,000 currency notes.
Banerjee had, on Thursday, attacked the Prime Minister and ridiculed the argument that people should use plastic money, saying only 4 per cent of the people in India use cards for transactions. Challenging the government to take action against her, she said: “I am not scared. I will continue my fight. If you have courage, put me in jail, shoot me…There are no vegetables in the market. Will people eat diamonds or ATM machines?” Banerjee said at a rally in Delhi.