Mamata Banerjee was speaking at the opposition rally at Jantar Mantar in Delhi. CPI(M) leader Sitaram Yechury and CPI leader D Raja spoke before her, but left minutes before Mamata Banerjee arrived. When Congress leader Anand Sharma arrived on stage, surprising many within the AAP, the TMC chief immediately got up and offered her seat to the former union minister.
But as the complicated politics of trying to stitch together an alliance of diverse political parties played out on the stage at, Banerjee said, “I will appeal to all the voters across my country, and to NRIs – please understand what’s happening at the grassroots level. If Modi remains, the country will go. If you’ve to protect the country, then vote against Modi.” This, the TMC leaders admitted, was among the clearest pitch that Banerjee has made for the prime ministerial job – although, she herself, has maintained that such details can be worked out at a later stage.
Mamata Banerjee had reached the rally venue from the Parliament, where her party had faced stiff criticism from the Left and the Congress over the chit fund scam in which her party men are allegedly involved.
Congress member Adhir Ranjan Chowdhury had alleged that the TMC looted the people of the state and that lakhs of people were looted and that their money should be returned. This, sources maintained, had angered Mamata Banerjee, who had in turn, taken up the issue with Congress leader Sonia Gandhi.
But Banerjee added, “In the future, we will fight together. Whatever fight Congress and CPM has with us at the state level, that will stay, but we will fight together at the national level (against the BJP). Let them fight against me, I don’t mind but for the greater interest of the nation, I am ready to sacrifice my life, I am ready to sacrifice my party, I am ready to sacrifice everything,” she said, adding that she would fight all 42 seats in West Bengal, and was looking to win all those seats.
She reiterated her formula for the opposition alliance – fight where each party is strong. “If you’re strong in Rajasthan, Congress, Chhattisgarh – fight there. We will fight where we are strong. Let them try to fight me (in Bengal), I will get all 42 seats.” This formula though, Bengal Congress leaders said, was problematic for the grand old party in the state. “In Bengal, we have already been weakened to just a few seats. We can’t not fight Mamata. Doing so would completely wipe us out and that is what Mamata wants,” said a PCC leader.
She added that the CBI’s attempt to “arrest” the Kolkata police commissioner was a sign of things to come and alleged that the days running up to the election would be punctuated with the BJP attempting to “use” the agencies to cow the opposition, spreading communal tension and violence. She added, “We aren’t cowards. We are here to fight. What will you do? Put us in jail, murder us, use your agencies? Go ahead. We are not afraid.”
Banerjee also found support from Arvind Kejriwal, who spoke after her. He said, “Modiji sent 40 CBI officers to Kolkata Police Commissioner’s house. This was Modiji’s attack on the elected government and the people of West Bengal. Modiji wanted to give a signal to the country. If PC had been arrested, the signal would have been you need to be scared of Modi Sarkar only and not state government.”
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