In a remark that has the potential to stir the Opposition Prime Minister candidate pot, West Bengal BJP president Dilip Ghosh on Saturday said that if any Bengali stands a chance of becoming the PM, it is West Bengal Chief Minister and Trinamool Congress chief Mamata Banerjee, and that the fate of the state is “dependent…on her success”.
Ghosh subsequently clarified that he was speaking about a “distant future”, and reiterated that Narendra Modi will become the Prime Minister again.
Speaking to reporters in Kolkata on Banerjee’s birthday, Ghosh on Saturday said, “I extend my good wishes to her on her birthday… Because on her success, the fate of West Bengal is dependent. She needs to stay healthy, because if there is any chance of a Bengali Prime Minister or a Prime Minister from Bengal, she has a possibility.”
Asked whether a BJP leader from West Bengal can become the PM, Ghosh said, “That may be later, but she has the first chance. We narrowly missed Jyoti-babu (former CM and CPI-M leader Jyoti Basu) as the Prime Minister. His party did not allow it. In the list her name is (now) at number one. Pranab-babu became the President, so there is a need for a Bengali to become the PM.”
Asked about his remarks later in the day, Ghosh said, “I wished the Bengal CM on her birthday. (I was) asked about her aspirations to become the Prime Minister, I said in distant future, if a Bengali becomes the PM, we will be happy. Our Prime Minister is Narendra Modi…he will again become the PM after the polls.”
Maintaining that she does not know the context in which Ghosh made the remarks, BJP Rajya Sabha MP from West Bengal Roopa Ganguly said, “Narendra Modi is our PM. I will not accept Mamata Banerjee and the TMC, who have murdered our workers, to lead the country.”
Asserting that Banerjee would lead the country in near future, state Food Minister Jyotipriyo Mullick said, “There is intolerance throughout the country, while peace prevails in Bengal under Mamata Banerjee – from the farmer to the youth, everyone is smiling in Bengal. Not because of Dilip Ghosh’s words… she will lead the country with the blessings of the people.”
BJP national secretary Rahul Sinha accused the TMC of trying to distort and “spread lies”. He said, “A person who has no following outside Bengal dreams of becoming the PM.”
Maintaining that it is “now clear who is BJP’s B-team in Bengal”, senior Congress leader Abdul Mannan said, “It is clear from the words of the BJP state president that Narendra Modi is not returning to power.”