West Bengal Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee predicted on Thursday that the 2024 Lok Sabha election would be an “election for rejection”, saying the BJP would be voted out of power at the Centre with other parties joining hands against Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s rule.
“The BJP will not get a simple majority. Ami challenge kore bolchi. Onnora ek hoye jabe (Others will join hands),” Banerjee said at Esplanade in Kolkata, speaking at the Trinamool Congress’s Martyrs’ Day (Shaheed Diwas) mega rally.
“I urge you. We will have to win all seats in Bengal. And not only in Bengal, we will have to win in other states like Assam, Tripura and UP. In some other states we will help our friends to win,” the TMC supremo said. “2024 will not be an election. It will be an election for rejection. Rejection of the BJP,” she added.
#shahiddiwas | Watch: TMC supporters gather in Kolkata for the Martyrs’ Day rally
📹 Partha Paul pic.twitter.com/Mwh0YSWc0P
The mega rally, which commemorated the death of 13 people in police firing at a Youth Congress protest led by Mamata Banerjee on July 21, 1993, was organised after a gap of two Covid years and broke all records of footfall, making Kolkata come to a standstill. It was also the first Shahid Diwas since the TMC’s emphatic Assembly poll win in 2021.
A bag of puffed rice (muri) and an LPG cylinder replica in hands, the Bengal chief minister hit out at the BJP-led Centre over the recent imposition of the Goods and Services Tax on certain goods and the rocketing price of petroleum products.
“Have they lost their minds? They have imposed GST on muri. What will people of Bengal eat? They have imposed GST on sweets and curd. ‘Amader muri firiye dao noile BJP biday nao (Return us our Muri, or quit from power),” Banerjee said. “Fuel prices have also gone up. How much is the price of LPG and diesel?” she added.
Banerjee also alleged that the BJP was on a spree of breaking and bringing down governments. “In Maharashtra they brought down the government. The BJP is saying that they captured Maharashtra. Now they will capture Rajasthan, Chhattisgarh and then Bengal. I have said, do not think of Bengal even by mistake. There is a royal Bengal tiger here. In 2021 they tried so much. But I salute our workers, who are our assets. The BJP failed in Bengal. 2021 (Assembly polls victory) has shown us the way,” she said.
Referring to the Centre’s Agnipath military recruitment programme, Banerjee said, “There is no alternative to the Army. Now Armymen and jawans are being deprived. Now they have introduced Agnipath. Will they work as BJP cadres?” said the chief minister.
“They stopped the money for NREGS. They stopped money for the Banglar Bari (Pradhan Mantri Awas Yojana) project. They are trying to impose an economic blockade on Bengal. If we do not get our money, we will gherao you in Delhi. If states like Rajasthan or Gujarat can use their own names (in projects), why not Bengal? What is wrong in using the name of our own state?” said Banerjee.
As a counter to the BJP’s attempt to woo tribal voters through presidential nominee Droupadi Murmu, Banerjee announced her party would commemorate Adivasi Dibas on August 9. “I have been demanding for a long time that the rights of tribals should be granted,” said the chief minister, adding that the state cabinet had already approved the tribals’ demand for recognising their religion Sarna.
As the rally was marred by heavy rains for half an hour, Banerjee said, “If our workers can wait for us in heavy rains and thunder, they can fight and oust the BJP.”
BJP state president Sukanto Majumder, speaking at a press conference later, said, “It was Congress workers who were killed in the July 21 protest rally. The TMC had hijacked the event. Today it is more a celebration than mourning. Whatever she said about GST is not right. It is applicable for packaged items.”