Accusing the BJP of trying to poach Trinamool Congress leaders ahead of next year’s assembly elections, West Bengal Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee on Wednesday said there may be a couple of “opportunists” in her party but the “real assets are the old-timers”.
Indirectly targeting rebel party leader Suvendu Adhikari, who is likely to join BJP later this week, she told a public rally in Coochbehar, “One or two come during the high tide and go out during the low. It doesn’t matter.”
“Those who were there in Trinamool from the first day, they are still here. They’ll continue to fight. Remember, they’ll not change their character. One changes his clothes but not ideology,” said the chief minister, who is on a three-day tour of North Bengal.
She claimed the BJP was trying to coerce Trinamool Congress leaders to join the saffron party. “Imagine the audacity of the BJP leaders, they are calling up my state president Subrata Bakshi and asking him to join the party. The BJP does not have any political courtesy or ideology.”
“There are one or two opportunists who only work for their benefit. The old-timers of the party are our real assets. The BJP is trying to coerce Trinamool leaders to join. It is using moneybags to break the opposition parties. But we will fight and defeat them in the Assembly polls,” she said.
Mamata said the BJP was allegedly threatening Trinamool leaders to either join the party or face jail. “I will be happy to be in jail rather than surrender before them,” she said.
Her comments come in the backdrop of a growing number of senior leaders who have spoken out against the party leadership and the state government. Apart from Adhikari, the list of dissenters includes leaders such as Shilbhadra Dutta, Jotu Lahiri, Rajiv Banerjee and Jitendra Tiwari.
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