Updated: October 31, 2021 6:03:07 am
Urging regional parties opposed to the BJP to join hands with the Trinamool Congress (TMC), party supremo Mamata Banerjee Saturday attacked the Congress, saying Prime Minister Narendra Modi will become more powerful as the grand old party is not serious about politics, and that the country is suffering because the Congress does not take decisions.
The statement by Banerjee, who was on a three-day visit to Goa that ended Saturday, came after her meeting with Goa Forward Party (GFP) president and former deputy chief minister Vijai Sardesai, a former ally of the BJP.
While silent on whether doors to the Congress are closed or not, the TMC chief said: “The Congress does not take things seriously in politics. Modiji is going to be more powerful because of the Congress, because they are slacking. Why should the country suffer because they cannot take a decision? They have had enough opportunities. Instead of contesting against the BJP, they contested against me in my state. How do they expect that they will contest against you, but you should go to them with flowers and sweets.”
Banerjee’s criticism of the Congress came on the day its leader Rahul Gandhi was also in Goa to kickstart the party’s campaign in the state. It signals further deterioration in the ties between the two parties, which have been taking swipes at each other lately, amidst the West Bengal-based party’s attempts for a footprint outside the state, including in states such as Goa (scheduled to go to Assembly elections in early 2022) where the Congress is a strong force.
Several Congress leaders have defected to the TMC in recent days, including in Goa, Tripura and Uttar Pradesh.
Best of Express Premium
TMC political strategist Prashant Kishor, who is managing the party’s campaign in Goa, recently said the BJP would be at the centre of Indian politics for years to come, irrespective of whether it wins or loses, and questioned Rahul Gandhi’s claim that it was just a matter of time before people threw the BJP away.
Asked about Kishor’s statement on the BJP, Banerjee said: “I feel he said that if we want to defeat the BJP, we cannot do it the way the Congress is heading. We have to give a strong fight to the BJP.”
Asked whether she was in the race for prime ministership, Banerjee said: “There are some politicians who want to become VIPs, but I prefer to be an LIP, Less Important Person. Let us be street fighters.”
The Congress has hit back, asking the TMC to introspect whether it was strengthening the BJP or trying to carve out a space for itself in Goa.
Addressing mediapersons, Banerjee said she wanted regional parties to be strong. “If the state is strong, then the Centre is strong… If we can win Goa, we can win India.”
Banerjee also indicated that the party might not be averse to working with regional parties. The TMC had earlier said it was not looking at an alliance in Goa. Kishor’s talks with Sardesai had reportedly broken down as the GFP was not on board with “merging” with the TMC.
Both Banerjee and Sardesai talked of “coming together” after their meeting Saturday. The TMC leader said, “We discussed the matter. Let us work together. But it (alliance or merger) is their choice.”
Sardesai said: “Mamata Banerjee is a symbol of regional pride and we are also a regional party. Everybody needs to come together. Prashant Kishor has said one in three persons votes for the BJP. This means two don’t. Our endevour will be to bring those two together.”
Banerjee signalled that there were no plans for an arrangement with the Aam Aadmi Party (AAP), which also hopes to make an impact in the Goa polls. Banerjee, who has good equations with Arvind Kejriwal, said: “I love him (Kejriwal). I have no problem with that. In Delhi, they won because of Anna Hazare, you have to appreciate (it for that)…It is not that every time only one political party will emerge. Have I stopped them from going to Punjab? Why would they stop us from coming to Goa?”
In an address on the final day of her Goa visit, Banerjee said: “Regional parties are strong parties and we want to see a strong federal structure. We don’t want outsiders’ daadagiri (bullying), we want insiders to work. Local, regional parties that are committed to defeat the BJP, let us work together.”
Goa was a “gold mine”, but needed strong leadership, Banerjee said.
📣 Join our Telegram channel (The Indian Express) for the latest news and updates
- The Indian Express website has been rated GREEN for its credibility and trustworthiness by Newsguard, a global service that rates news sources for their journalistic standards.