CHIEF MINISTER Mamata Banerjee had been unusually silent throughout the recent elections in five states. She had initially promised to campaign against Prime Minister Narendra Modi and the BJP. As results started trickling in on Saturday, Mamata broke her silence, congratulating the “winners” of the Assembly polls, while asking the “losers” not to lose heart. She, however, did not take the name of any party or individual.
Watch What Else Is Making News
“Congratulations to winners in different states. Congratulations to the voters for making their choice. To the losers, don’t lose heart… In a democracy, we must respect each other because some will win, some will lose. Trust the people,” Mamata said in a series of tweets.
Mamata had initially promised to support SP in UP and AAP in Punjab; but she withdrew.
“In UP, she didn’t get the kind of reception from parties that she was expecting. In Punjab too, she realised that AAP wasn’t going to do as well as she had hoped,” said a TMC leader. Whether this was the case or not, the Opposition — particularly Congress and Left — alleged this was “yet another indication” that Mamata secretly supported the rise of right-wing politics in Bengal.
Trinamool leaders, meanwhile, claimed Mamata’s next point of collision with the BJP is likely to be during the presidential elections, scheduled to take place before July 25. Mamata, sources said, is likely to support the re-election of Pranab Mukherjee.
“The BJP is in an incredible position. It is no longer a surprise. This is the largest victory a party has got in UP since late 1980s. But this doesn’t bode too badly for TMC. If Akhilesh was to win UP with Congress vice-president Rahul Gandhi’s help, they would have been able to promote themselves as PM candidates ahead of 2019 Lok Sabha elections. Now, Mamata is the best placed to oppose Modi,” said a leader close to the CM.
A Trinamool leader, claiming that Mamata has no plans of giving up on her PM ambitions, said: “The entire attack on Modi over demonetisation and religious polarity is an calculated effort to project herself as a significant entity in national politics.”
The state BJP, meanwhile, has been alleging — particularly after its leader Juhi Chowdhury was arrested in a case of child trafficking — that Mamata has directed the state CID to prosecute party leaders. This, Left and Congress maintained, is an attempt to conceal an “understanding” between the BJP and the Trinamool.
TMC leaders claimed the focus would continue to be on demonetisation, secularism and development.
“The attack is going to be directed at Modi and how the federal structure of the country is being weakened. Bengal, Punjab and UP might be very culturally different but all are suffering because of Centre’s continued step-motherly treatment. The debt in states is a result of this. The BJP has been destroying the secular and peaceful fabric of the country. In Bengal, they haven’t been able to do so…,” said a party leader.