It is a year of three elections. And after back-to-back victories in two (panchayat and municipality polls) in the last two months, chief minister Mamata Banerjee plans to launch her campaign for the Mother of all Battles — the 2014 Lok Sabha polls — from the Brigade Parade Ground on November 25.
Although the Trinamool Congress has declared that it would observe the Brigade bash as a victory rally, Mamata would kick off her Lok Sabha campaign by addressing the mammoth public gathering. She would go hammer and tongs at the UPA government at the Centre, insist on keeping distance from the BJP and announce the issues on which her party would fight the next general elections in Bengal.
Mamata has told her MPs that highlighting the development programmes of the state government and the step-motherly attitude of the Centre towards Bengal, trapped in a more than Rs. 2 lakh crore debt burden, would be the principal planks on which the Trinamool would fight the next general elections.
The CM is seething over the fact that despite being an UPA ally at the Centre for a-year-and-a-half and repeated assurances by Prime Minister Manmohan Singh and the then finance minister Pranab Mukherjee, Bengal was not bailed out of the financial crisis.
The Centre categorised Bengal as debt-stressed state and the CM demanded the state be given a three-year moratorium on loan interest being paid to the Centre.
But even that fell on deaf ears.
“This is UPA’s political vendetta against the CM. The Centre had allowed the Left Front to continue its financial anarchy but has refused to do justice with a government that is pro-people. In history, no government has inherited such a debt,” said Trinamool deputy leader in the Rajya Sabha Sukhendu Shekhar Roy.
“People will be made aware of this catastrophic situation and the Congress’ role.”
Regarding development, people will be told that the state government has brought peace back in Jangalmahal and Darjeeling and is developing the areas.
“What the Left Front government could not do in 34 years, the Mamata Banerjee government has done in little more than two years,” claimed Sukhendu Shekhar Roy.
It is from Brigade that Mamata will personally announce that since the people have reposed faith on Trinamool, she would fight the elections alone without tying up with the Congress or the BJP.
Trinamool would highlight the UPA government’s scams and tell people that BJP is irrelevant in Bengal politics.
Pre-poll there would be no alliance, but post-poll the CM will keep her options on joining the Centre.
But what if the BJP-led NDA comes to power at the Centre? Former Union minister of state for tourism and Trinamool MP Sultan Ahmed said the party and people have left all decisions to Mamata.
“Minorities trust us and have backed Mamata since 2011. They believe whatever she does would be for their good,” said Sultan Ahmed.
Trinamool leaders believe that at the Brigade rally, Mamata could touch upon the pending IndoBangla land border agreement and Indo-Bangla Teesta watersharing treaty.
“River Teesta serves six districts of North Bengal and this needs to be taken into account before signing the treaty while the land border agreement means giving around 1,500 acres to Bangladesh and getting about 600 acres in return.
This is no quid pro quo,” said Sukhendu Shekhar Roy.
“In a Federal government, how can the UPA ignore Bengal? Is it a satellite or a Banana Republic?” he asked.