By late Thursday morning, it was clear that the Trinamool Congress (TMC) was on its way to secure a massive majority in West Bengal. Shortly after noon, Chief Minister and party chief Mamata Banerjee addressed the media at her residence in Kalighat, in the heart of Kolkata.
Speaking for the first time since campaigning for the six-phase polling ended, Mamata dubbed the understanding between the Left Front and the Congress a “great blunder” and called for peace in the state, adding that there will be no “victory march”.
Towards the end of campaign, Mamata had spoken bitterly about a “conspiracy” by the Opposition parties to malign the TMC, and her government.
The bitterness continues — and it was apparent on Thursday. She accused the Opposition of spinning a “web of lies” in an effort to grab power, said that political discourse in West Bengal had struck a “historic low”, and claimed that allegations of corruption against her party was “propaganda” by a certain media house.
“People of Bengal have rejected attempts by the Opposition to mislead them; they didn’t like the way the Opposition spread lies against me in this election. This is the magic of ‘Ma-mati-manush,” she said. Emphasising that such “smear campaign” was “not good for politics, and not good democracy”, Mamata said, “The people of Bengal are very intelligent. They have given a reply to the allegations made against us.”
About the Left Front-Congress alliance, she said, “It was the greatest blunder for the CPM to align with the Congress. They (Marxists) compromised with their ideology — and if you compromise with your ideology, you lose everything.” Maintaining that in elections “someone will win and someone will lose”, she said no one should resort to “spreading lies”: “I wish those who abused me well. Let them fight against me.”
Meanwhile, the TMC’s role in the Rajya Sabha now becomes even more crucial. The BJP-led NDA in the Upper House is in a minority despite its strength in the Lower House, and the government is finding it difficult to push through legislation in Rajya Sabha. In what must be music to the NDA’s ears, Mamata reiterated that despite ideological differences with the BJP, her party would support the government on “issues beneficial to the people”. She added, “We will support the GST (Bill).”
Party spokesperson Derek O’Brien, who was seated next to Mamata at the press conference, had earlier hinted at the TMC playing a larger role in national politics.
Mamata announced that the elected members of TMC will meet at 12.30pm on Friday to elect their leader, and that the new government will take oath on May 27.