AMID posturing by different leaders for the main Opposition space, West Bengal Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee Thursday said her Bihar and Jharkhand counterparts Nitish Kumar and Hemant Soren, apart from the Samajwadi Party’s Akhilesh Yadav, the RJD’s Tejashwi Yadav and other leaders, would join the Trinamool Congress to oust the BJP from power in 2024.
Addressing a party programme here, the TMC chief said: “I, Nitish Kumar, Hemant Soren and many others will come together in 2024. All Opposition parties will join hands to defeat the BJP. All of us will be on one side and the BJP on the other. The BJP’s arrogance of 300 seats will be its nemesis. There will be ‘Khela Hobe’ in 2024.”
Before Banerjee spoke, all the leaders of the TMC, including Sudip Banerjee, Abhishek Banerjee and Kalyan Banerjee, in their speeches said the Opposition parties can fight against the BJP only under the leadership of Mamata Banerjee.
The TMC chief said: “They (the BJP) always say that they have 300 seats. They should remember that Rajiv Gandhi had 400 seats but lost in the next election. The BJP will also lose. They will lose 100 seats in these states. There are other parties in other parts of the country. Soon they will also come with us.”
Banerjee’s remarks came in the wake of Nitish Kumar’s three-day trip to Delhi, where he met several leaders in his bid for Opposition unity, including the Congress. Before that, Telangana Rashtra Samithi leader K Chandrashekar Rao had travelled to Patna seeking Nitish’s support for a similar front. On Wednesday, AAP leader Arvind Kejriwal launched his ‘Make India No. 1’ national campaign from Hisar.
Speaking at the party meeting, Banerjee criticised the Centre and Prime Minister Narendra Modi over its various policies, saying: “They increased unemployment, fuel prices. We are yet to see the bullet train but we are seeing their lies spread at the speed of the bullet train. They sell the country. The Prime Minister does Mann ki Baat. It will be Mann ki byatha (pain) very soon.”
She claimed that the Centre had sent her an invitation for the unveiling of the statue of Netaji Subhas Chandra Basu at India Gate on Tuesday at the last moment. “An under secretary wrote a letter to me the day before yesterday (Tuesday). He said to me that you should be present there. He wrote to me as if I were his servant. They do not have basic courtesy.”
The CM said she decided against travelling to Delhi and went to Netaji’s statue early Thursday and paid him her tributes there. Later, she wrote in her Facebook account, “He (Netaji) lives in our hearts and continues to inspire us, daily. Today is a very special day as all my leaders, party workers and members of the West Bengal Trinamool Congress came together at Netaji Indoor Stadium for an important session. I thank all my brothers and sisters of the Trinamool Congress family for your tireless fight against autocracy.”
Banerjee exhorted party leaders to continue “to fight every hate-ridden campaign, shameful propaganda, and to raise voice against the atrocities that the BJP government inflicts on our people”. “It’s now or never,” she said.