A day after the Opposition’s motion of no-confidence was defeated in the Lok Sabha, Trinamool Congress chief Mamata Banerjee claimed the government had no numbers outside Parliament, and that the BJP would be ousted from power next year.
She announced a mega “federal front” rally in Kolkata on January 19, to which all opposition leaders would be invited. Within hours, the BJP announced a counter rally at the same venue on January 23, to be addressed by Prime Minister Narendra Modi.
Mamata blamed the hatred that the BJP was allegedly promoting for the spate of lynchings in the country over the past few months. She described the leadership of the BJP as “Talibani Hindus”, and attacked Modi directly, saying he had the “blood of riots on his hands”, and thought of himself as “a bigger dictator than Hitler and Mussolini”.
“Yesterday, the BJP managed to defeat the no-confidence motion by 325 votes to 126. They got the numbers inside the House, but those were 2014 numbers. In 2019, they will be ousted,” Mamata told her party’s annual Martyrs’ Day rally. “They got the AIADMK’s support, but had Jayalalithaa been alive, the BJP would never have got those votes. They lost their oldest ally, Shiv Sena. The BJP is fast losing numbers and allies. They won the no-confidence motion with help from some acquaintances (porichito).”
The 18-member Shiv Sena, which shares power with the BJP in both New Delhi and Mumbai, boycotted the vote on Friday. The Trinamool organises a Shahid Divas rally at Esplanade in the heart of Kolkata on July 21 every year to remember 13 Congress workers who were killed after police fired on a protest march against the then Left Front government, led by Mamata, who was in the Congress at the time.
“(DMK working president) M K Stalin will defeat the AIADMK in Tamil Nadu (in the Lok Sabha elections of 2019). In UP, if (SP president) Akhilesh (Yadav) and (BSP supremo) Mayawati come together, their alliance will win 50 of the 80 seats. In Madhya Pradesh, they (BJP) had got 28 seats (in 2014), but this time they will not win even eight seats. In Rajasthan, they won 25 seats but this time they will not even win five. In Gujarat they will get zero. In Bihar, Laluji will get all the seats. In West Bengal, people will show them the door. In Odisha, Naveen Patnaik will get the seats. In Punjab, Amarinder Singh will thwart them. Where will they get the seats?” Mamata asked.
“They (the NDA) now have 325 (seats). I doubt they (BJP) will cross 100 in 2019. They (BJP) will get at best 150 seats. They will not get a majority. Mark my words,” she said, and asked her workers to ensure Trinamool victories in all 42 Lok Sabha seats in West Bengal.
“On January 19 at Brigade Parade ground, we will hold a mega rally. The rally will mark the beginning of the BJP’s end. I will invite all political leaders (in the opposition). It will be the beginning of the federal front. Bengal will show the way in the Lok Sabha polls. But we are not clamouring for the chair. We do not care for the chair,” she said.
Soon after Mamata spoke, BJP national secretary Rahul Sinha announced that his party, too, would hold a rally in the city on January 23, the birthday of Netaji Subhas Chandra Bose.
“The BJP is planning to take out Rath Yatras across the state in January next year. The final meeting of all these Rath Yatras will be held at Brigade Parade Ground on January 23. Our party leader and Prime Minister Narendra Modi will address the rally on that day,” Sinha said.
The BJP leader accused the Trinamool of involvement in scams and of running a “syndicate raj”, and claimed the people of the state would give her a “befitting reply” in 2019. “I am making it clear that this was the last time she held the Shahid Diwas rally on the streets of Kolkata. From next year, they will hold the rally in a closed room,” Sinha said.
Mamata, who has been among the most vocal critics of the government, has been talking about a “federal front” for some months now. Sources in the Trinamool Congress said she intended to invite former Congress president Sonia Gandhi, too, to this rally. In her speech Saturday, Mamata said: “The Congress and CPM can’t have separate faces in New Delhi and in Bengal. The Congress allies with the BJP against us in the panchayat elections in West Bengal, but in Delhi they pretend to be our ally. The Congress has to be very clear on whom they want to ally with.”
West Bengal Congress president Adhir Chowdhury said Mamata’s exhortation to TMC workers to win all 42 Lok Sabha seats in the state was a signal for more violence. “Before the panchayat polls, she asked her workers to win 100 per cent panchayats. About 60 people were killed in political violence around the elections. She must ask herself why the BJP is gaining in Bengal. It is because of her,” Chowdhury, the MP from Baharampur, said.
In her speech, Mamata drew a link between the lynching of innocent individuals across the country — including Muslims who have been targeted by cow vigilantes — to the hate that she accused the BJP of promoting.
“Lynchings have become so common, which shows how they (the BJP) are preaching hatred among the people. The Prime Minister has asked the states to rein in vigilantes but I ask him to first control the speech of their party president and leaders in West Bengal. They are spreading hatred through their speeches. They are changing the names of railway stations. I respect the oldtimers of the BJP; they did not play these dirty games. They were not like the Talibani Hindus who rule the country today. Hundreds of people have been killed in Uttar Pradesh in the name of encounters. More than 12,000 farmers are committing suicide every year,” she said.
On the other hand, in West Bengal, “farmers have tripled their income, and we have given them a loan waiver”, she said. “The central government should learn from us.”
Modi, Mamata said, “thinks of himself as a bigger dictator than Hitler and Mussolini. A person who still has the blood of riots on his hands will come to my state and preach intolerance, and I will have to tolerate that?” India, she said, was going through a constitutional crisis. “Democracy was never so threatened as it is now. They are trying to buy the national media and even interfering in the judiciary,” Mamata said.
She mocked the BJP for the collapse of a tent during a recent public meeting addressed by the Prime Minister in Midnapore on July 16, in which 90 people were injured. “They cannot even build a simple stage, and they talk about building the nation,” Mamata said. The tent had collapsed under the weight of people who had climbed the iron rods holding it up. Both Modi and Mamata had visited the injured in hospital.
Journalist Chandan Mitra, BJP member of Rajya Sabha for two terms from 2003 to 2009 and 2010 to 2016, was present at the rally, as were the expelled CPM Rajya Sabha MP Ritabrata Banerjee and five MLAs of the Congress. Adhir Chowdhury alleged the Congress lawmakers had been “either threatened or bought” by the Trinamool.